Supermarket chain Lidl has been fined more than £3,000 after an investigation at a Chesterfield store exposed the company for selling furniture that failed safety tests and was incorrectly labelled.
Derbyshire County Council trading standards launched an investigation in Chesterfield which led to the successful trading standards’ prosecution.
Lidl UK GmbH pleaded guilty at Chesterfield magistrates’ court, on Wednesday, September 3, to one charge of selling unsafe upholstered furniture which failed flammability requirement regulations.
The company also pleaded guilty to a charge of incorrectly labelling the furniture.
Derbyshire County Council Deputy Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, Councillor Ellie Wilcox, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of this prosecution.
“Selling furniture that fails flammability tests is very serious. Furniture that is flame-resistant or burns slowly can buy people vital minutes if they need to escape their homes because of a fire, potentially saving their lives.”
Chesterfield magistrates fined the company £2,400 for selling unsafe furniture and £800 for the incorrect labelling charge.
The successful prosecution follows a test purchase of a chair bed from Lidl’s store in Foljambe Road, Chesterfield, in January.
County council trading standards officers bought the chair bed and sent it for testing with the results showing that it failed flammability and labelling requirements.
The chair bed was promoted and sold by Lidl as a chair bed but checks carried out by the company’s German manufacturer were conducted as if it was a mattress, which involves different flammability and labelling requirements.
Tests independently commissioned by Lidl after the company was informed by trading standards of the failed sample, confirmed that the products they had been selling did not comply with UK regulations.
Lidl had already sold around 5,400 of the products and, on accepting the product had failed the safety tests, issued a nationwide product recall.
Trading standards officers regularly carry out testing of upholstered furniture, like chairs, sofas and mattresses to ensure they are fire resistant and have the correct warning labels applied.
All new upholstered furniture sold in the UK must be fire resistant. This does not mean that it won’t burn, but if it catches fire it will burn more slowly and in some circumstances be self-extinguishing.
Safety standards are designed to ensure that if a cigarette or match was dropped on the furniture it would not readily set alight, giving people more chance of escaping the property.
The decision to prosecute was influenced by the fact that the county council’s trading standards had cautioned the company six years earlier after a similar chair bed sample failed flammability tests. On that occasion Lidl GmbH UK promised to improve its safety checks.
As well as fining the company, Chesterfield magistrates also ordered Lidl to pay £1,197 court costs.