Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has increased prices by more than 50% on some sports equipment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been reported.
The price change was included in internal documents viewed by the PA news agency.
And another of Mr Ashley’s Frasers Group retailers, Jack Wills, is forcing staff into stores despite government advice to stay home unless you are an “essential” worker, employees said. to PA.
Frasers had previously tried to claim that Sports Direct was a key operator in keeping the nation in shape, but later said he would be closing stores.
But after a reaction from the public, the stores, as well as Evans Cycles, were closed.
However, there are still reports that workers have been told to arrive at the stores, against the advice of the government.
In a message to staff on Tuesday morning, the company wrote “we will not be opening our Sports Direct or Evans stores to the public” and continues “please continue to work as requested last night”.
And on Tuesday, Sports Direct also sent a document to staff, seen by PA, that shows which lines are expected to have price hikes applied.
Since the company uses a âticketâ pricing system followed by âdiscountâ stickers, it can be difficult to know what price a product has been sold for.
Pricing documents show that a 4kg Everlast kettle bell went from Â£ 9.99 to Â£ 14.99 – although the sticker still says the price of the ‘original’ ticket was Â£ 19.99.
The cost of a 12kg Everlast bell, which is owned by Sports Direct’s parent company Frasers Group, is now Â£ 39.99, down from Â£ 29.99.
Other items include Slazenger, Lonsdale and several other well-known brands are owned by Frasers.
The price hike comes as the Frasers group, which includes House of Fraser, Jack Wills, Evans Cycles and Sports Direct, among others, has been forced to turn around to open stores.
Chris Wootton, chief financial officer of the Frasers Group, said its Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores would not open on Tuesday.
He said in a “clarification” that they would remain closed, although he said government policy “excludes the closure of bicycle shops”.
The stores will not reopen until “the green light from the government has been given,” he added.
But at Jack Wills, a staff member told PA workers were sitting in stores awaiting instructions.
One said: “We feel like we are putting ourselves and others at risk by not staying at home like the government has told us. I have colleagues who are frustrated and frustrated. anger.
“We feel disrespectful by Mike Ashley’s decisions to try to keep the business going. The lack of communication and plan when they knew it was likely is embarrassing.”
The retailer said he was contacting the government “at all levels” to try to get the Prime Minister’s confirmation.
It comes after politicians attacked the company for its plan to keep stores open after Boris Johnson ordered non-essential stores to close, with Labor Chairman Ian Lavery telling majority owner of the company Mike Ashley to “take some responsibility” and to “close shop” “.
The group wrote to all workers within 30 minutes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to shut down non-essential retailers, telling them that its position in the sale of sports and fitness equipment made it a vital asset during the ‘a national shutdown.
In the original letter, Mr Wootton said: âAgainst the backdrop of gym closures, demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as people seek to maintain healthy lifestyles.
“Therefore, we are uniquely positioned to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis and therefore our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open to the extent possible to enable us to do so. do (in accordance with current government social policy. distancing advice). “
Labor MP Jess Phillips also slammed the call to keep stores open, tweeting: “Massive cups, even though there’s nothing people can’t live without in Sports Direct.”
Rival retailers such as JD Sports have confirmed stores will remain closed until government guidelines change.