Retailer must pay back £142,000 over fake trainers
A sports retailer which has a shop in Burnley has been ordered to pay back £142,000 after selling fake trainers to unwitting customers.
Gibson Sports, which now operates under the name G2 Lifestyle, sold the Adidas sports shoes from its Blackpool store as well as through online auction sites, including Ebay, at £35 a pair.
Blackpool Trading Standards said a handful of counterfeit trainers, which had been bought from the Burnley shop, in Howe Walk, were also returned after they launched an investigation following a tip-off from a disgruntled customer, although the majority were sold in Blackpool and online.
Owner Andrew Rourke was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and the company was fined £30,000 after being prosecuted by Blackpool Council.
Preston Crown Court was told Rourke claimed he had not known the goods were counterfeit but accepted he did not carry out the proper checks.
Rourke has also been ordered to pay back £141,925 following a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, and must also pay the council’s costs of more than £8,000.
Prosecutors said he had bought the trainers from a man he met at a motorway service station near Blackburn, paying £76,282 in cash for 4,055 pairs of the shoes according to invoices.
The trainers were all copies of Adidas styles – Superstar II, The Sneeker, Stan Smith and Forest Hills. The court heard the man had bought his trainers online but the sole on one of the shoes had completely worn away after being worn only 20 or 30 times.
Council officers visited Gibson Sports in Blackpool in March 2013 and initially seized 89 pairs of Adidas sports shoes, before returning later that month to confiscate a further 323 pairs of trainers from the office above the shop.
Further visits were made to seize more of the shoes.
Only 422 pairs were recovered, meaning a total of 3,633 pairs had been sold.
Rourke and Gibson Sports Ltd each admitted three charges relating to selling and possessing counterfeit goods likely to be mistaken for a registered trademark.
Mr Mark Stephenson, representing Rourke, said it had not been known the trainers were counterfeit. Due diligence checks had not been carried out regarding the goods.
Mr John Close, in mitigation for Gibson Sports, said the company had been operating at a substantial loss and in 2011 it had £500,000 worth of creditors, but at least half of that has now been repaid.
The court heard all the trainers had been bought from one source, a man called Amangit who contacted the shop.
The council tried to trace the supplier but his address proved to be a travel agents, while the VAT number was false.