Bike shops across the UK are allowed to remain open during the coronavirus lockdown, but Evans Cycles will close all stores until it receives approval from the government.
On Monday (March 23), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that British residents would not be allowed to leave their homes with a small number of essential exceptions, as the UK tries to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The government is allowing people to cycle once a day for exercise and bike shops will be allowed to remain open.
But the Frasers Group, run by billionaire owner of Sports Direct and high street bike shop chain Evans, Mike Ashley, has been forced to row back on a statement that stores would remain open.
After Boris Johnson’s announcement, an email to all Sports Direct and Evans staff said: “We stock a huge range of sports equipment designed for exercising at home … indeed, home fitness is the number one trending topic on social media after coronavirus itself.
“Against the backdrop of the closure of gyms, the demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as the population looks to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“Consequently, we are uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis and thus our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open where possible to allow us to do this (in accordance with the government’s current social distancing guidance).”
But the following morning, Mike Ashley and Sports Direct bowed to pressure from the authorities and agreed to closing all stores.
While Evans Cycles is still exempt from the mandatory closures, the Frasers Group chief financial officer Chris Wootton said: “To clarify my earlier message, we will not open our Sports Direct or Evans stores to the public, even though government policy excludes ‘bicycle shops’ from closure, until we are given the go-ahead by the government.
“Please note we are contacting them at all levels, including attempting to get confirmation from the Prime Minister.”