The clampdown on American sweet shops on Oxford Street began today after confiscating fake chocolate bars and fake vapors and toys.
Westminster Council Trading Standards officials have raided some of the toughest, most expensive US-themed candy and souvenir shops on the high streets.
On Oxford Street, one of the world’s most famous shopping streets, HMV’s flagship store has also been seized as local authorities claim the stores are being used as part of a 7.9 million tax scam.
Today, Westminster Council leader Adam Hughes tweeted a photo of bags and bags of counterfeit chocolate bars, saying: ‘Counterfeit or illicit goods worth over k 100k at my desk were confiscated by our hard-working trade standard officers from American candy shops on Oxford Street.
‘Yesterday’s shipment included 2246 fake wool bars; 2838 disposable vapors (both fake and with high nicotine levels, tank size above permissible levels, 223 toys without safety labels, 1393 fake mobile phone covers + lots’.
Between Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road stations there are now at least ten candy stores – about one in every 200 yards – offering other services such as foreign exchange.
There has been a boom in videos of young people using super-sour or sweet American treats and beverages for the first time. Others are handing out visitors to staff, some of them apparently still in elementary school, including free desserts to pop in and give a handful of bumps.
MailOnline revealed last week that a £ 7.9 million tax fraud investigation has been launched into themed stores, including Oxford Street and the leading Kingdom of Sweet chain in London’s West End. We’ve also revealed that the brand and some of its competitors are using TikTok, Instagram and YouTube to lure kids into their stores.
Westminster Council has seized £ 100,000 worth of counterfeit and counterfeit goods from Oxford Street American candy stores, including these Wonka bars.
Councilor Adam Hughes, leader of Westminster City Council, said: ‘Anyone who walks Oxford Street is surprised by the growing number of American-style sweet shops and poor quality souvenir outlets. They are not just eye-sores; They pose a threat to the status and price of the nation’s major shopping mall.
Mr Hughes said: “We need more transparency in company ownership, including further improvements to the company house – the forthcoming Economic Offenses Bill 2 could help. The government needs to provide adequate resources for delivery to Company House, HMRC and other agencies.
These stores have been branded as ‘modern day child catchers’ who have been called upon to conduct research on similar stores harvested on high streets across the country.
Some London candy stores are also selling sweets that are so sweet that they would be illegal to produce in the UK.
Nicki Aiken, a Tory MP from the cities of London and Westminster – including Oxford Street – called the stores “terrible”. She told MailOnline: ‘I think they are wrong on many levels – what they are offering and the way they hide young people and children in their stores through these bizarre marketing strategies. They are a bit like modern day child catchers.
‘I think the next point is that Oxford Street landlords clearly want to keep their premises open to tenants. But these stores don’t do much for the Oxford Street environment. They really bring it down.
‘So this is the short wording by the landlords I suggest. They really want to invest in their buildings and in the long run attract more types of tenants. ‘
Ms Aiken said she was sure other parts of the country had similar problems, but the “concentration” on Oxford Street made it clear.
Campaign group Action on Sugar said stores were exploiting loofah, meaning imported US chocolates and candies would not face the same restrictions on sugar ingredients as UK-made products. This means that US-themed supermarkets sell products with almost three times the amount of sugar a British child consumes daily, even in small single servings. Action on Sugar calls targeting children “terrible.”
Lib Dem MP for Bath, Vera Hobhouse, said there were three American candy shops in her town, and urged the government to investigate the “loofah” that allowed the UK to import super-sweet American candy.
Officials investigating retailer tax cases are understood to be concerned about an alleged strategy in which owners set up multiple limited companies using the name of a single store before closing companies to serve as its legal owners before holding them accountable for business rates. Two companies that have a direct partnership with Kingdom of Sweets – Croftrey Limited and Old Green Limited – have already lost 2 million.
The council is also understood to be concerned about another alleged strategy used by rivals of the sweet state, which sees shops set up in vacant buildings so that homeowners do not have to pay business rates on vacant premises, before closing and leaving shops accountable. Taxes for yourself. There is no suggestion that the state of sweets is doing this.
A spokesman for the Kingdom of Sweets said: “We are a respectable business paying all relevant taxes and trade rates. The issue of opening up rival stores and closing trade rates has had a detrimental effect on our business in a very difficult environment.
“As a responsible business we support plans to stop this practice and will continue to work with Westminster Council.”
There is no suggestion that any of the shops depicted in this article are under investigation.
Candy Store Takeover Over the West End – Before and After: HMV’s flagship store has unofficially turned into ‘Candy World’.
Candy Store Takeover Over the West End – Before and After: The American Sweets and Souvenirs store on Oxford Street (right) was once the Ryman Stationery Store (left). There are no suggestions. The council is investigating the shops featured in the MailOnline article.
Before and after: The ‘CandyLiceus London’ store on Oxford Street (right) was once a shoe store (left)
Before and after: A Coast clothing store on Oxford Street (left) was now in the Sweet Kingdom (right).
Kids are targeted through TikTok videos like this, which show them eating a very sweet dessert outside an American candy store in central London.
Another social media film shows the boy winning a contest to get ‘free candy’.
Two kids dancing enthusiastically outside a sweet Kingdom store, compared to a theme park for candy.
The Westminster Trading Standards team is looking at increased prices across a range of chains, including up to £ 20 for a bag of sweets and £ 10 for a box of Lucky Charms cereals. This is in addition to the claim that some stores have no value in their goods.
There are also allegations that some shops are selling old food and counterfeit goods, and the planning department is looking into whether the premises are advertising illegally.
Councilor Adam Hughes, leader of Westminster City Council, said: “Anyone who walks Oxford Street is surprised by the growing number of American-style sweet shops and poor quality souvenir outlets. They are not just eye-sores; They pose a threat to the status and price of the nation’s major shopping mall.
‘The problem is that building owners are turning a blind eye to those who sublet them because that means they are not responsible for business rates. That’s why we have American candy shops in prestigious places.
“It simply came to our notice then. People who sell sweets at exorbitant prices are cheating UK taxpayers and often cheating their customers in the deal. ‘
Before and after: The American Candy Store on Oxford Street (right) is in a store that once housed Futsylam (left).
Before and after: Wonka branding (right) in ‘American’ store in Old Accessories and Monsoon store (left)
Before and after: ‘American Sweet Dreams’ (right) at the site of Little Holland and Barrett next to Ann Summers (left)
Before and after: Phone 4U store (left) was now on the site of the ‘Welcome London’ souvenir store (right)
Before and after: The boot store used to occupy the site where the ‘American Candy Store’ now exists (left)
Before and After: A JD Sports Store (left) was once a retail space now used by a store called ‘Candy Shop’ (right).
Before and after: ‘Vap shops’ pop up, like at the entrance to the old St. Anne’s Church on Shaftsbury Avenue (left)