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Discount company fined for not seeing the light

 Published on: 23rd November 2015   |   By: The Newsdesk   |   Category:

Poundworld have been ordered to pay more than £70,000 for selling hi-vis safety jackets that did not work following a test purchase by Trading Standards from its Watford store. The discount retailer sold 95,700 of the Chinese-made £1 vests which bore the logo Be safe and be seen. But when tests were carried out on one of the jackets its reflectivity was no more than 2.4 per cent of what it should have been, St Albans Crown Court was told. Prosecutor Andrew Johnson said that Joe Tyler, from Hertfordshire Trading Standards, made a test purchase from Poundworld on Watford High Street in March last year. He said: “Whilst the produce purported to be a high visibility safety vest, it was in fact no such thing. It was little more than an item of clothing. “Neither the fluorescent yellow background material or the retro-reflective strips were of a standard anywhere near that which was necessary to ensure the visibility of the user.” The jacket was withdrawn from sale on June 5 2014 and there was a national recall in January this year. In a written response to Trading Standards’ questions, Poundworld said the vest that was tested was part of a batch of 7,200, but over a period beginning in January 2010 it had imported and sold 95,700. The company, which has its HQ in Normanton, West Yorkshire, appeared for sentence, having pleaded guilty to two offences of engaging in misleading commercial practice at an earlier hearing. Stan Reiz, defending, said the Chinese manufacturers had provided test certificates that were misleading to Poundworld . He said there had been no complaints or safety incidents reported. He added: “The company admits it fell short of due diligence. It has now changed its policies and has increased its UK test centres.” Judge John Plumstead fined Poundworld £15,000 and ordered it to pay £42,395.10 in an agreed confiscation order as well as £6,123.16 prosecution costs. He said: “People would have gone out of the shop believing they had improved the safety of their children or themselves when out after dark on foot or on a bicycle. “The fine demonstrates the court’s disapproval of those who put on the market safety aids that are not safety aids at all.” In May this year a majority share of  Poundworld, the UK’s second-largest pound shop chain with 250 shops and around 5,000 employees,was sold to US private equity firm TPG for £150 million.

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