SPORTS DIRECT yesterday increased prices by more than 50 per cent on some sports equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, according to internal documents.
Pricing documents show an Everlast 4kg kettle bell has gone from £9.99 to £14.99 — although the sticker will say the ‘original’ ticket price was £19.99.
A 12kg kettle bell by Everlast, which is owned by Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley’s parent company Frasers Group, is now £39.99, up from £29.99.
Another Frasers Group retailer, Jack Wills, was said to be forcing staff into stores during the pandemic, despite government advice telling non essential workers to stay at home.
Frasers had tried to claim Sports Direct — along with Evans Cycles — was an essential operator for keeping the nation fit and should remain open. But it reversed its decision due to a backlash.
However, there were still reports of workers being told to arrive at stores.
One message sent to staff by the company read, ‘We will not open our Sports Direct or Evans Stores to the public’ before continuing ‘please continue to head into work as we have been instructed last night’.
One Jack Wills worker said: ‘We feel like we’re putting ourselves and others at risk by not staying at home like the government has told us to.
‘I’ve got colleagues feeling frustrated and angry.’ Chris Wootton, chief finance officer of Frasers Group, said Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores would remain shut, despite stating that government policy ‘excludes bicycle shops from closure’.
The retailer said it was contacting the government ‘at all levels’ in an attempt to get confirmation from the prime minister.