// PM Boris Johnson warns Mike Ashley to “expect the consequences” if he flouts lockdown rules
// Ashley recently took a u-turn on deciding to keep Frasers Group’s Sports Direct stores open during coronavirus pandemic
Boris Johnson has warned Frasers Group chief executive Mike Ashley to “expect the consequences” if he does not stick to the lockdown rules regarding his employees during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Employees had been ordered to continue working at Frasers Group’s Sports Direct stores, which are closed to the public as a result of the pandemic.
The government had said employees can continue working in non-essential industries if social distancing can be safely practised.
- Sports Direct & Evans Cycles backflip on staying open during lockdown
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However, Ashley recently embroiled the company in controversy after hiking prices of sports equipment by more than 50 per cent and deciding to keep stores open despite being non-essential – a decision he recently took a u-turn on.
Frasers Group had also told staff at Sports Direct and Evans Stores to “please continue to head into work as we have been instructed”.
Labour MP Chi Onwurah asked Johnson what he made of the discovery that Ashley was not doing “the right thing”.
The PM said: “The instruction to the gentleman in question and indeed every business is to follow what the government has said, to obey the rules or to expect the consequences.
“That is the best way to look after not just their employees but their businesses as well.”
Downing Street said shops that breach lockdown measures could face unlimited fines.
On Monday, Frasers Group finance chief Chris Wootton sent an email to staff just 30 minutes after the government-mandated lockdown announcement to say that Sports Direct and Evans Cycles would remain open “where possible”.
— Sports Direct (@SportsDirectUK) March 24, 2020
Sports Direct and Evans Cycles back flipped on this decision shortly after Frasers Group was met with criticism.
Wootton wrote that the two chains offered vital products and services that would help people “maintain a healthy lifestyle” during isolation.