Fast-fashion chain New Look has been slapped with a hefty fine following a blaze at the retailer’s Oxford Street store two years ago which gutted the building.
The chain has been prosecuted, fined the maximum fine of £400,000, and has been ordered to pay £136,052 by the London Fire Brigade, following the fire at the store on April 26, 2007.
The retailer’s fire safety standards were condemned by the judge as the sentencing took place at Southwark Crown Court today. New Look pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Thirty fire engines and 150 firefighters were needed to tackle the blaze and crews remained at the scene for the three days.
Following the fire, the brigade carried out fire safety inspections at the premises and found “substantial” breaches of fire legislation.
Despite the building’s fire alarm sounding it was reset on at least one occasion. New Look was also found to have insufficient staff training and was wrapped for having storage blocking escape routes.
A New Look spokesman said: “The incident in 2007 was an unfortunate and concerning time for us all, and as a responsible business we immediately initiated a comprehensive review of our health and safety procedures. New Look has never been deemed negligent in any way for the fire, but the business has fully taken on board the recommendations presented at the Inquiry and will continue to strengthen its company guidelines and working practices to ensure full compliance. The health and safety of our staff, customers and neighbours is of paramount importance and we continue to conduct regular safety audits for all stores.”
Councillor Brian Coleman AM FRSA, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: “Good business management includes taking responsibility for fire safety, knowing the law and acting on it. This conviction shows that large companies are not exempt from prosecution and that the London Fire Brigade will take action when businesses do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously. Failure to comply with the law can, as this case has shown, result in a substantial fine.”