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Poundstretcher hit with £1m fine

05 January 2018

Discount retailer Poundstretcher has been fined £1m after pleading guilty to 24 counts of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Following a complaint from a Poundstretcher employee, three of the retailer's stores, in Newbury, Newhaven and Swindon, were investigated for health and safety violations. 

Unannounced visits to the three sites resulted in 16 charges being levelled against the Swindon store, five against Newhaven and the remaining three against Newbury. The breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 included, but weren't limited to; blocking fire exits, dangerous storage of stock and placing young persons at risk of harm without the necessary training. 

Poundstretcher, which has 400 stores and 6,000 staff nationwide, plead guilty and was fined £466,666 for the Swindon case, £333,334 for the Newbury case and £200,000 for the Newhaven case. 

During the sentencing hearing, which took place at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Hetherington commented: “To blame the local management is not only deeply unattractive, coming from a major employer employing some 6000 people, but, in my judgment, on the evidence I heard, quite unfair. It is, in any event, a circular argument – it is part of higher management’s function to see to it that local management is in place and performing to a proper standard.

“This complacent attitude was highlighted by the way in which senior management, often at director or company secretary level, dealt with requests for interview by enforcing authorities. Whilst, as a matter of strict law, the company may have been entitled not to co-operate, their consistent failure properly to engage with and answer questions spoke volumes as to the company’s attitude towards the role of the enforcing authorities.”