Benkyodo owners retire, ending 115 year San Francisco legacy sweets shop

American-themed sweet shops situated in London's Oxford Street are being investigated over alleged tax fraud.

Over 30 stores in the capital's famous shopping district are at the centre of Westminster City Council's probe for failing to pay £7.9m in business rates.

Within the last six months, the council has also seized counterfeit and illegal goods from American candy and souvenir stores, which amounted to £474,000,BBCreported.

Some of these items include 4,500 disposable vapes which do not conform to UK standards due to having higher levels of nicotine and large tank sizes along with thousands of tobacco or shisha products without any safety label warnings.

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A lack of pricing on display, and out-of-date food are examples of further trading standard breach complaints that have been received.

In recent years, American candy stores have popped up on Oxford Street in replacement of traditional high street shops which have changed the retail landscape in Europe's busiest shopping street.

The worry is that very few shops are serving sufficient customers to be commercially viable, but are actually using the properties to avoid business rate bills and could potentially commit other offences.

One alleged tactic, officials are said to be concerned about is where a single-store name is used to set up a number of limited companies as the legal owner, only to close these down before they can be liable for business rates, Mail Onlinereported.

Councillor Adam Hug, leader of Westminister City Council told the publication: "Anyone walking down Oxford Street is struck by the ever expanding number of US style sweet shops and poor quality souvenir outlets. They are not only an eye sore; they are a threat to the status and value of what is supposed to be the nation's premier shopping street."

"The problem is that owners of buildings are turning a blind eye to those who sublet them as it means they are not liable for business rates. That’s why we have a rash of US candy stores in prestige locations.

"This needs to stop and we will be stepping up pressure on landlords to make it clear they are responsible for Oxford Street being overrun with these kinds of stores. The people selling overpriced sweets are cheating the UK taxpayer and very often swindling their customers into the bargain."

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