Mike Ashley's Frasers Group was forced to ditch plans to keep its Sports Direct shops open following an outcry on social media overnight.
But Sports Direct also instructed managers to make significant price increases to a number of lines.
ITV News has seen a copy of Price Changes Report that was sent out to around 600 Sports Direct shops, ordering staff to hike the prices of a range goods in time for Tuesday morning.
The prices of some items rose significantly:
- Lonsdale Club Skipping Rope that was £2.99 rose to £4.99
- Slazenger Aluminium Baseball Bat that was £19.99 rose to £29.99
- Unicorn Esclipe Pro Dartboard was £29.99 rose to £39.99
- Everlast dumbbell set (18kg) was £44.99 rose to £64.99
The list was sent to us by several people who work for Sports Direct and were uncomfortable with what the company was doing.
"It’s incredibly rare for prices to go up by £10, let alone £20," a store manager told me earlier.
"[Sports Direct] are hiking prices on the ‘stuck at home’ stuff like dartboards and dumbbells. That’s the stuff that’s selling at the moment and [the company] know it."
"This is 100% price-gouging. It’s outrageous," the manager adds.
A spokesperson for Frasers Group has denied any wrong-doing on Tuesday night.
"While some goods have seen an increase in price at Sports Direct, this is not the complete or accurate picture. Not only were these goods originally discounted, but even now they are under the Recommended Retail Price (RRP)."
It is worth noting that most of the goods listed above belong to brands owned by Mike Ashley (Lonsdale, Slazenger and Everlast). As such Fraser Group sets the RRP.
Last week the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) set up a task force to crack down on companies that attempt to cash in during the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak by increasing prices.
In a statement, the CMA said on Tuesday night: "along with reports about other retailers, we are aware of the situation at Sports Direct. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will take action where appropriate."
The CMA will look at the timing of the price increase. It will also want to be satisfied that SD was legitimately passing on an increase in its costs, or that goods in question had suddenly become scarcer.
If it’s not happy that was the case then it may pursue enforcement action.