Billionaire Mike Ashley Apologizes After Questioning Shutdown Order

(Bloomberg) --

Billionaire Mike Ashley apologized in an open letter for questioning a government-mandated lock-down and attempting to keep his retail stores open.

Ashley, the founder of the Sports Direct brand, sought to keep his stores open in defiance of government guidance, provoking criticism from politicians and the public. The U.K. government had ordered non-essential services to close down to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

“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,” Ashley said in a statement Friday.

Emails to government seeking clarity on whether stores can operate were “ill-judged and poorly timed,” Ashley added in the letter. Ashley’s retail store chains Sports Direct and Evans Cycles had written to the government on Monday asking if stores can be opened the next day.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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