More than £100,000 worth of counterfeit or illegal chocolate bars and vapes were seized from US candy shops on Oxford Street yesterday.
Trading standards seized a huge haul of dodgy goods yesterday, including 2246 counterfeit Wonka Bars, with a raid worth £22,000 from one shop alone.
Council officials are endeavouring to crack down on the US-themed sweet shops, which it claims are using the stores as a front for tax dodging.
Yesterday’s raid of three unnamed shops also resulted in the seizing of some 2838 disposable vapes, which were counterfeit or had excessive nicotine levels, and had not been authorised by regulators.
More than 200 toys with no safety labels were also grabbed, alongside more than 1,300 counterfeit mobile phone covers.
Other products seized included counterfeit Rolex watches, Apple Ipods and hoodies while Shisha products and chargers were also removed for their lack of health and safety warnings.
The leader of Westminster City Council, Adam Hug, called for “greater transparency in company ownership with further reforms for Companies House,” pointing to an upcoming economic crime bill.
An “ever expanding number” of US-themed sweet shops and “poor quality souvenir outlets” were not only an “eye sore” but a “threat to the status and value” of the country’s top shopping destination, Hug added.
Building owners were “turning a blind eye” to their subletters as it means they are not liable for business rates, he added.
“This needs to stop and we will be stepping up pressure on landlords to make it clear they are responsible for Oxford Street being overrun with these kinds of stores. The people selling overpriced and often out-of-date sweets are cheating the UK taxpayer and very often swindling their customers into the bargain,” Hug said.
Westminster City Council said on Wednesday that it had seized counterfeit and illegal goods amounting to around £574,000 from American candy and souvenir stores so far.
Earlier this week, it was reported that dozens of American-candy shops on Oxford Street were being probed over claims they failed to pay £7.9m in business rates.
The council told the BBC that the 30 shops under investigation were “far from regular and legitimate businesses”.
Council officials have written to 28 freeholders urging them to consider the impact of such shops in the West End.
Earlier this year, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) urged consumers not to buy or eat counterfeit Wonka products.
The agency warned the products could be unsafe to eat as they may be produced or repackaged by parties breaching food hygiene and labelling laws.
The FSA also warned some products had been discovered to contain allergens that were not mentioned on labels, representing a serious health risk to people with allergies.