A Birmingham business and its director were today (Thursday 14 August) ordered to pay a total of £15,613 after pleading guilty to 15 offences each under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
Company director Dinesh Karshan Visavadia, 63, who runs Furniture Wholesale Central Ltd, Plated Strip, Wharfdale Road, Birmingham, was ordered to pay a fine of £3,000 and a £20 victim surcharge during the sentencing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
The company was fined £11,250 and also ordered to pay full costs of £1,363.25p and a £75 victim surcharge.
Birmingham City Council brought the case against the company director after Trading Standards officers seized nine items of furniture which failed to meet the labelling requirements of the 1988 Regulations during a routine inspection on 5 December 2013.
Visavadia was ordered to not to sell the non-compliant furniture and to check all remaining stock to ensure it met the labelling regulations. Furniture Wholesale Central Ltd was able to continue trading during this investigation.
Four of the items seized – two footstools, a two-seater sofa and a lazyboy lounger – were sent to West Yorkshire Materials Testing Service for flammability tests to be carried out. Three items – a grey footstool, a beige footstool and a lazyboy lounger – failed these tests, as they continued to burn beyond the two minute threshold.
Officers asked Visavadia to produce paperwork to identify the suppliers and on 12 February 2014, he provided a number of documents detailing foam and fabric tests. However when officers asked which items they related to, he was unable to answer.
Visavadia was invited to attend interviews with officers on several occasions but failed to attend.
Councillor Barbara Dring, Chair of the city’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Compliance with these regulations is vital because materials which do not comply with these represent a severe risk of fire, which could ultimately claim lives.
“This is why it is important all furniture is correctly labelled as consumers rely on the information on safety labels as being accurate, that the furniture is safe to use and whether there are any flammability risks.
“The fact that the items of furniture seized did not comply with this legal requirement means many shoppers buying new furniture from this store were potentially put at risk.”