BOSSES at Sports Direct which has stores in Chester and Ellesmere Port have reveresed plans to keep its stores open because during the coronavirus crisis.

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, which includes Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, had written to all workers within 30 minutes of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to shut down all non-essential retailers saying it planned to remain open to "keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis".

However, this morning the company confirmed it would now be closing all of its stores, including two in Chester and one in Ellesmere Port.

Chris Wootton, chief finance officer, said in a "clarification" that they will remain shut, despite stating that government policy "excludes bicycle shops from closure".

In his email to staff last night, he wrote: "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).

"There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population."

The finance chief, who sits on the board alongside chief executive and majority owner Mr Ashley, signed off: "Thanks for your incredible efforts during this time."

The Prime Minister said restrictions would be tightened up so only essential journeys should be made by key workers.

He also said people could leave home for exercise, but only while maintaining social distancing.