Value retailer 99p Stores has pleaded guilty to four food hygiene offences, relating to a mice infestation at its premises on Camden High Street in north London.
The company, which has rapidly increased its network of stores over the last 18 months, was earlier this month fined a total of £14,000, plus £3,914 costs and a £15 victim surcharge at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court.
Camden Council’s food safety team were forced to temporarily close the store after finding poor levels of food hygiene, which including chewed packets of dried food and poor standards of cleaning.
These events followed 99p Stores voluntarily shutting down the same premises less than a year ago in order to deal with a previous mice infestation; however the company says it has now improved standards of cleanliness and implemented new pest control procedures.
Sue Vincent, cabinet member for environment at Camden Council, said: “Camden’s food safety team will always work with local food businesses to improve hygiene standards, but these businesses must also have effective food hygiene procedures.
“I hope that the penalties imposed by the court in this case show the consequences of not having good hygiene procedures so that local people and visitors feel confident buying items in Camden’s many fantastic food outlets.”
Businesses in the value retail sector such as 99p Stores and competitor Poundland have benefited during the recent period of austerity in the UK, with customers looking for the cheapest places to shop.
A large percentage of the former Woolworths premises are now let by these companies, with the pair seizing on the opportunity to take on large, well-positioned shops left vacant by the general merchandiser’s demise at the start of 2009.
Local Data Company research last summer revealed that as of July 2010 47 ex-Woolies had been transformed into 99p Stores, which helped the retailer double in size in the space of just 12 months.