Further government support needed to save retailers, Sports Direct CFO says

Sports Direct Chris Wootton covid-19 mike ashley lockdown
Sports Direct CFO said the UK high street was already in "turmoil" before lockdown measures
// Sports Direct finance boss Chris Wootton warns more UK high street stores could go bust if gov does not offer further support
// He told Sky News that the UK high street was already in “turmoil” prior to the Covid-19 pandemic

Sports Direct chief financial officer Chris Wootton has reportedly warned that more high street shops risk going out of business without further government intervention during the Covid-19 crisis.

The finance boss told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that the UK high street was already in “turmoil” before lockdown measures and would need further financial assistance to survive.

He added that without such support, “many more retailers will go to the wall”.


“I will credit the government on the business rates relief that we got, but that is something that needs to be looked at more permanently to help save the high street, because business rates are a key issue in doing that,” Wootton said.

Sports Direct is due to reopen its shops on 15 June along with other non-essential retailers, following government guidance.

It will introduce protective screens, sanitisation stations, and safety signs, Wootton said.

Wootton has previously described the government’s plans to reopen shops as a “shambles” adding guidance has been “vague”.

“I think privately and publicly retailers were expecting to open on June 1. I have been very public in our views that the Dominic Cummings fiasco led to the government panicking and pushing that back.”

Parent company Frasers Group came under fire in March when founder and chief executive Mike Ashley claimed it was an essential operator and therefore stores should stay open.

He later u-turned on this by apologising for “ill-judged and poorly timed” emails and poor communication.

Wootten denied this was the case, saying: “I’d like to correct you on that, we were just asking for guidance from the government as to whether we should stay open.”

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  1. Shops shouldn’t need help from government to keep them from closing. Sorry I think it’s time that the high street wasn’t so large. If you limit people’s choice then they can only shop in a limited amount of shops. There are just too many shops usually under an umbrella company. And those are wanting the help the most. Why not just cut back on the shops they have? Put sports direct in house of Fraser. One less rents to deal with.

  2. Tend to agree with you Bel. As a shop owner myself, there’s no doubt it has been tough, but the government schemes, such as furlough, I think have been brilliant. It is time for the likes of sports direct/Fraser’s group to stop wanting, landlords, government and customers to increase their giving and took responsibility for their business.


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