Budget retail chain Poundland has been handed a £134,000 fine following the discovery of a mouse infestation at two of its Birmingham stores.
Birmingham Crown Court deemed the rodents posed an imminent health risk after partially-eaten chocolate Santas and a mouse “smearing” were discovered.
There were also reports from the store’s employees of “crap everywhere” and a storeroom that was “disgusting”.
Both stores have since been closed pending approval from health inspectors that they meet required legislation.
“Food safety is of course paramount to public health and it is extremely important that the public can have confidence in the hygiene standards in our high street shops,” Judge Mary Stacey said.
“In both stores in the periods with which we are concerned there had been mouse activity which had been proven to exist over a three-month period prior to the environmental health officers going in.
“It is absolutley clear that Poundland have apologised profusely for the distress to their customers and to the staff having to work in those conditions – and I find that remorse genuine.”
Poundland was also handed £18,162 in costs after pleading guilty to a total of eight offences, including breaching hygiene laws, within the two Birmingham shops positioned metres apart in the city centre.
Lee Bennett, who was the prosecutor for Birmingham City Council, told the court that the retailer has received numerous complaints from members of the public as far back as February 2015.
Upon arriving, health inspectors noted evidence of droppings near water bottles and stuck on boxes of sweets, as well as grease tracks left by over six months of activity.
Ian Thomas, who represented the retailer, said: “The company takes this matter very, very seriously… It is sorry that it’s let itself down and it’s sorry that it’s let its very loyal customer base down.”