Retail chain Dorothy Perkins has been fined £1,000 for allowing one of its stores to become so cold after the heating system broke that staff became ill.
Temperatures inside the Carlisle shop were at one point measured to be 2.9 celcius – colder than the inside of a fridge.
Bosses admitted breaching health and safety rules by failing to heat the store in The Lanes shopping centre in November and December last year.
Carlisle magistrates heard how a health and safety officer found the temperature in the changing rooms to be 11.6C, and the average store temperature to be 14.6C in November last year. The legal minimum working temperature is 16C.
The store’s manager said the heating had been turned off because it was leaking. The court was told that portable heaters were requested from Dorothy Perkins head office, but there was no response.
A notice was served on the store, giving it until December 17 to provide sufficient heating.
Temporary heaters were then delivered on at the end of November, but had little effect.
Further temperatures were taken in December and found the in-store atmosphere to be as low 10.7C, and 2.9C in the stockroom. Staff complained of feeling ill.
Dorothy Perkins said the company had been let down by a maintenance contractor.
Adequate temporary heaters were eventually put in by December 29.
Magistrates imposed the fine and legal costs of £1,426.
It was the first criminal conviction for the 102-year-old company.
A spokesperson for Dorothy Perkins said: “It was something that happened last year that we went to rectify, but our contractor let us down in terms of getting a new heating system in place on time. Ultimately it was taken out of our hands,” she added.
She said the low £1,000 fine handed out by magistrates was evidence that they understood the extent to which the company had tried to fix the problem.