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Mar 20, 2023
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Council calls for law change to end blight of candy stores on Oxford Street

Mar 20, 2023

The West End of London’s local authority has called for a much stricter economic crime bill and reform of business rates to officially bring a halt to American-style candy and souvenir stores that continue to “litter” Oxford Street.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Westminster City Council’s leader, councillor Adam Hug has told City AM: “We are dealing here with a sophisticated operation which is skilled at exploiting UK legal loopholes”, adding that there’s a “glaring lack of governance” around setting up companies such as the candy stores in the UK with only “cursory checks on who the directors are”.

He cited some 29 ‘candy stores’ in operation the length of Oxford Street, between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch.

Westminster has been attempting to crack down on these stores that have become a “brutal eye sore in the capital’s most popular shopping district”. It said that it’s “harder to get a local authority library lending card than to register a company at Companies House”.

In the last 15 months the council said it has recovered £1 million worth of items that were deemed suspect are either fake or potentially dangerous.

“Westminster City Council has energetically pursued unscrupulous traders who sell unsafe or fake goods and fail to pay business rates, but we have always maintained this is a whack-a-mole activity,” Hug said.

The council has also called for a reform of the business rates which would allow for more frequent revaluations, with stronger information requirements to reduce the level of appeals made by these shops.

Candy stores were a big feature of the immediate post-pandemic period as other retailers exited Oxford Street and some major names closed down. Some former flagship branches of key UK and international retailers became candy shops and many candy stores remain in place, despite the intensive property development going on at present.

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