Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley pens open letter to say sorry for actions in face of coronavirus pandemic - this is what it says
Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has apologised for "ill-judged and poorly timed" emails to the Government as new “lockdown” measures to deal with the coronavirus outbreak were announced.
The businessman was heavily criticised this week after pledging to keep his stores open, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordering all “non-essential” businesses and premises to shut in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19 in an address to the nation on Monday, March 23.
Mr Ashley claimed that Sports Direct was an “essential” tool in keeping the public fit while they remain at home. He later performed a U-turn and said all of his shops would shut.
In an open letter, shared on Friday, March 27, the majority owner of Frasers Group revealed he has offered the company's "entire fleet of lorries" to the NHS to help deliver medical supplies and equipment.
Frasers Group then came under further fire as its finance chief wrote a letter to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on Wednesday, March 25 in an attempt to defend its position.
This is what the letter said in full:
Given what has taken place over the last few days, I thought it was necessary to address and apologise for much of what has been reported across various media outlets regarding my personal actions and those of the Frasers Group business.
Our intentions were only to seek clarity from the Government as to whether we should keep some of our stores open; we would never have acted against their advice. In hindsight, our emails to the Government were ill-judged and poorly timed, when they clearly had much greater pressures than ours to deal with. On top of this, our communications to our employees and the public on this was poor.
There has been no dress rehearsal for what we as a nation are currently tackling, and I for one am immensely proud of how our Government, our NHS & all of our key workers have handled the situation so far. I would especially like to thank my Frasers Group employees, who have stood by the business in difficult times before and are doing so again currently. We are working very hard to save our business, so that we can continue to be one of the biggest employers on the UK high street once this pandemic has passed.
Outside of Frasers Group, I have offered our support to the NHS and we are poised and ready for when that offer is accepted, with our entire fleet of lorries at their disposal - to help deliver medical equipment and supplies. This offer is not limited to the NHS but all key workforces across the Government. We will help wherever possible.
Finally, to reiterate, I am deeply apologetic about the misunderstandings of the last few days. We will learn from this and will try not to make the same mistakes in the future.
I strongly encourage everyone to follow the Government's advice, stay safe and healthy through these challenging times, not least my employees.
CEO Frasers Group