Cost row delays sentencing in false label case

TARTAN tat kings Gold Brothers have had their sentence deferred for selling Chinese-made cashmere clothes with "Made in Scotland" labels amid a legal row over how much the goods were sold for.

The company, which owns stores throughout Edinburgh, had already pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of "misleading" customers at its Royal Mile store.

Sheriff Fiona Reith was due to fine the firm at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, but sentencing was postponed after its lawyers dismissed allegations that the cashmere garments had been sold for up to three times their cost.

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Depute fiscal Robert Freeland told the court that the cashmere jumpers and cardigans shipped over from China had been sold to the firm for 46 each by a supplier.

Trading Standards officers carried out test purchases at Abercrombie Cashmere in the High Street and said they bought products for 90 each.

But the officers added that some of the cashmere goods had been on sale for up to 150, a claim denied by a lawyer for Gold Brothers.

Both legal teams will now need to return to court on January 17.

Trading Standards officers carried out test buys of the products after first tracing the supplier of the imported clothes, who admitted they were shipped in from China.

The court heard that a member of staff at the shop admitted to investigators that he knew the product labelling was "inaccurate".

Mr Freeland told the court that 293 cashmere jumpers and cardigans had been seized from a shelf display marked "Made In Scotland".

He added that the supplier had admitted selling them to Gold Brothers for 46 each. The same items would have cost 81 wholesale if they had been manufactured in Scotland, then retailed at 170-190.

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Mr Freeland said the cashmere items from China had prices ranging from 70 to 150 at the shop.

Gold Brothers' defence lawyer told the court that his clients denied the products were being sold at "premium prices".

He said: "The error was in the labelling of the shelf. The garments were not labelled as Made in Scotland. It's a case of human error.

"It was not a deliberate policy to mislead shoppers to believe that they were getting a premium product at a knockdown price. The products were being sold at the normal prices for Chinese-made goods."

He also said that the firm had introduced a new policy at its stores where any new labelling referring to "geographic origins" had to be approved by one of the partners.

A lawyer for the firm, run by brothers Malap, Surinder and Galab Singh, last week admitted the charge against it. It stated that Gold Brothers, trading as Abercrombie Cashmere, supplied and offered for sale cashmere garments which had "a misleading statement of geographical origin" between August 27 and September 15 last year.