May 22, 2020
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Frasers Group eyes June reopening and reviews furlough wages

May 22, 2020

Frasers Group, the owner of retail chains including House of Fraser, Sports Direct and Flannels, has announced its stores could start to reopen from 1 June. 

In a letter sent to all Frasers Group staff, chief executive officer Mike Ashley thanked them for their support during the lockdown period and revealed that most employees will continue to receive 100% of their pay during May.

This applies to virtually all directly engaged employees, including those on casual contracts, as well as both furloughed and non-furloughed staff.

But senior managers including CFO Chris Wooton, commercial head Sean Nevitt and non-executive directors will remain on a reduced annual salary capped at £40,000.

Mike Ashley, who is thought to be the 75th wealthiest person in Britain with an estimated wealth of £1.95bn according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2020, does not take a salary from Frasers Group.

He said: “The Frasers Group is nothing without its people, and I want to thank them all for their continued support and hard work.”

The company had not previously ruled out a pay reduction during the lockdown. And in March, it withdrew its annual earnings guidance, which had forecast growth of 5% to 15% in EBITDA.

Sports Direct has been surrounded by criticism during the crisis, first for attempting to keep stores open despite the government’s non-essential shutdown policy. And earlier this month, furloughed Sports Direct workers accused the business of asking them to come into work to prepare the stores for reopening.

Mike Ashley’s latest letter aims to stress the company’s commitment towards its employees and build up goodwill ahead of a potential phased reopening.

According to Edelman, an American PR firm, brands’ actions during the pandemic will have an impact on future purchasing behaviour for customers, with 65% of those surveyed saying the way brands respond to the outbreak will have a “huge impact” on their likelihood to buy their products.

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