A major u-turn has seen Sports Direct decide against opening its stores this morning (Tuesday, March 24).
Earlier this morning, the sports retailer had said that its stores in the UK would remain open during the coronavirus crisis.
But after calling for its workers to continue selling sports and fitness equipment in the face of the pandemic, the high street giant has now reversed its decision.
It comes after politicians hit out at the business for its plan to keep stores open after Boris Johnson announced new tougher measures to fight COVID-19.
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery had criticised company majority owner Mike Ashley, urging him to "take some responsibility" and "shut up shop".
Chris Wootton, chief finance officer of owner Frasers Group, said its Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will now close with immediate effect.
All 367 stores in England, including 7 in Lancashire, will not open for business today.
He said in a "clarification" that they will remain shut, despite stating that government policy "excludes bicycle shops from closure".
Stores will not reopen until "given the go-ahead by the Government", he added.
The retailer said it is contacting the Government "at all levels" in an attempt to get confirmation from the Prime Minister.
Sports Direct has tweeted a letter (pictured), from CFO Chris Wooton to the Prime Minister, seeking clarification on whether the retailer can open or not.
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