Tycoon contrite

Ashley ‘sorry’ for store opening plan, offers fleet to NHS

Mike Ashley Sky vid

Mike Ashley: poor communication

Mike Ashley, majority owner of Frasers Group, has apologised for planning to open Sports Direct stores immediately after the Prime Minister asked shops to close.

The company was widely criticised for issuing a call to its 17,500 staff to turn up for work just minutes after Boris Johnson issued his statement.

In an open letter, Mr Ashley said he was only seeking clarity and that communication with employees was poor. He has now put the company’s entire fleet of lorries at the disposal of the NHS to help deliver medical equipment and supplies. 

“This offer is not limited to the NHS but all key workforces across the Government,” he said.

In his letter, he says: “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.

I am deeply apologetic about the misunderstandings of the last few days

– Mike Ashley

“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.”

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