Two shop owners knowingly sold counterfeit goods such as perfumes, cigarettes, and vapes while claiming they did not appreciate the unlawfulness of what they were doing.

Muhammad Waqar Hanif, 33, and Majeed Muhammad Azizan, 48, are the directors of Pound Grow Limited, a supermarket in Place De Criel, Nelson.

They sold a variety of products from their shop but following a Trading Standards inspection on March 6, 650 items were seized from the store, at the time suspected to be counterfeit.

These included goods ripped from brands such as Chanel, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton and Versace.

Claire Larton, prosecuting at Burnley Crown Court, said in addition to these products, officers found bags behind the till containing various brands of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco. Further items like these were found in the stock room.

Lancashire Telegraph: Pound GrowPound Grow (Image: Google Maps)

The cigarettes, from the brands Richmond, Marlborough and Amber Leaf, all contained breaches of packing requirements such as foreign health warnings and non-standardised packaging.

When scanned through the till, they came up at £5 and were labelled as drinks rather than cigarettes in the till’s data.

Ms Larton said the prosecution’s case was the false descriptions were a deliberate attempt to legitimise payment for these items so they could go through the shop’s accounting system.

E-cigarettes and vapes were also seized from under the counter, with 65 of these found to be above the 2ml max tank capacity for nicotine-containing liquid.

After their summons was received, the court received an email signed ‘Majeed and Waqar’ which confirmed they were managing the store.

In that email, they said the cigarettes were for personal use and not for sale, despite being registered on the till, and said they were new to the business so did not understand the rules and regulations.

They added the perfumes were left by a legitimate rep of the companies, but that they left no contact details and never returned to the shop.

Ms Larton said the pair’s guilty pleas meant there was an acceptance these claims could not be maintained.

Neither of the men have any previous convictions.

Daniel Calder, appearing for both men, said the store opened in September 2021 following the pandemic and was set up using a combination of personal savings and business loans.

Mr Calder said the profitability of the business was “limited” and that it was a “relatively unsophisticated exercise.”

Both men were said to be “deeply ashamed of the position they’ve put themselves in.”

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Jeffries said: “Reading between the lines I think you both thought to yourselves you could make a quick profit very cheaply. There’s no doubt you saw a way of making some money on the cheap.

Lancashire Telegraph: Burnley Magistrates' Court, where the case was heard as a Crown Court hearingBurnley Magistrates' Court, where the case was heard as a Crown Court hearing (Image: Archive)

“The real concern for me isn’t so much a pair of Prada sunglasses or a pair of Lacoste socks, it’s buying unlicensed, untrademarked perfume and cigarettes, so members of the public have no idea what they’re spraying on their wrists or necks and no idea what they’re pumping into their body.”

Hanif, of Victoria Street, Nelson, and Azizan, of Cherry Tree Lane, Stockport, Greater Manchester, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of possessing goods with a false trademark, two counts of producing or supplying tobacco in breach of packaging regulations, and one count of producing electronic cigarettes which did not comply with product requirements.

They were both sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will be heard in September to determine any sentence against Pound Grow itself and to determine the ancillary orders Hanif and Azizan will face.