MORE than a million pounds worth of counterfeit clothes and shoes were seized in raids on storage units in East Lancashire and Manchester.

Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards team and the police swooped on four unnamed premises with warrants including one in Waterfoot in Rossendale and another in Hapton last Thursday to uncover around four lorry loads of illicit goods.

The operation followed border seizures and work by the Anti Counterfeiting Group and representatives from the big brands whose goods were ripped off.

A number of eBay test purchases of items by Lancashire Trading Standards were later confirmed as counterfeit, and warrants were then granted by the courts.

Copies of several brands were seized, including Nike, Converse, Adidas, North Face and Superdry.

County Cllr Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: “The volume of illegal goods found by our officers in just one day demonstrates the value of the counterfeit clothing trade.

“Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. The lack of control over working conditions places ‘invisible’ workers who produce counterfeit goods, many of them children, in very vulnerable positions.

“Counterfeiting costs our economy £9billion a year and is behind over 80,000 UK job losses annually, so it’s something we need to investigate.

“We are very grateful to Manchester Trading Standards, to Lancashire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Police, to the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and to the Anti-Counterfeiting Group for their invaluable assistance on these jobs.”

Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said: “When a haul of illegal good of this scale is seized it is vindication of our belief that we are on the right track to stamp out this sort of crime in our communities.”

Police said that no arrests have been made but enquiries are ongoing.

Anyone with information about counterfeit sales can help by reporting it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133.