'Made in Scotland' Royal Mile cashmere was woven in China

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The Gold Brothers chain, which runs a string of tartan souvenir shops in Edinburgh's Royal Mile, has been fined £4,500 for selling cashmere garments manufactured in China, when the label on the shelf stated they were made in Scotland.

The company pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to the charge that between 27August and 15 September, 2009, while trading as "Abercrombie Cashmere" in the Royal Mile, they supplied and offered for sale cashmere garments which had "a misleading statement of geographical origin".

A complaint to Edinburgh City Council's trading standards department led to officers visiting the shop in the High Street. The "shelf-edge label" stated the goods were made in Scotland.

Investigations with the UK supplier revealed that Gold Brothers knew the garments were from outside Scotland.

An employee in the shop admitted he knew the labels were inaccurate, but failed to take any action to remove them.

Sheriff Fiona Reith, QC, heard that the shelf had previously held items made in Scotland, but the labels had not been removed when the Chinese garments were put on display because of "human error" by the staff.

Management had not been aware of this or of the visit by Trading Standards. Defence solicitor Robert Millar said Gold Brothers had been in business for almost 30 years. The company catered mainly for the tourist trade and had some 15 shops in Scotland with a turnover of several million pounds.

The Abercrombie Cashmere shop in the Royal Mile, which was the only one to have had inaccurate labelling, had an annual turnover of 450,000.

He pointed out that the items themselves had not been labelled as being made in Scotland.

The case was adjourned until yesterday, when Mr Millar told the sheriff the retail price for a Chinese-manufactured lady's cardigan was 150, while a Scottish-manufactured lady's sweater would be 150 to 185.

He stressed that the mistake had occurred in only one shop. His clients accepted it should not have happened, but it had been a genuine error.

"There was no attempt to deliberately mislead the public that what they were buying was Scottish manufactured cashmere".

Fiscal Depute, Robert Freeland, said the Crown accepted it had been a genuine error, but the labelling should have been changed after the period when the trading standards officers visited the shop.

He accepted that the cashmere had not been labelled as "Made in Scotland", but neither had it been labelled "Made in China".

Sheriff Reith said that because the assurance had been given that measures had been taken to prevent this happening again, the appropriate fine was one of 4,500. She allowed 28 days for payment.