Rats are supposed to leave a sinking ship but Tesco, reeling from news of declining market share, has found mice all too keen to infest one of its flagship convenience stores in London.
Westminster Council, itself under fire for a botched attempt to introduce new highly restrictive parking regulations recently, ordered Tesco to close its Metro store in Covent Garden, part of the tourist trail in the West End of London. The shop has been closed since Monday evening.
The council has issued a hygiene prohibition notice and has reportedly ordered a top-to-bottom clean-up.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
Tesco has admitted to being extremely concered at the situation and has apologised for falling below its own "very high standards" on hygiene.
"We insist on the highest standards of hygiene in our stores and are extremely concerned by this incident, which we are confident was isolated," a Tesco spokesman told the BBC.
"The Covent Garden store is temporarily closed and we are taking urgent steps to deal with the problem," the spokesman added.
According to Westminster Council, the store was closed because of "a serious live infestation of mice throughout the premises, poor maintenance of routine cleaning, inadequate proofing against mice and direct contamination of food items".
Earlier on Wednesday it was reported that Tesco continues to lose market share to its rivals in the UK. Figures covering the first 12 weeks of the year show Tesco's market share easing to 30.5% to 30.4%, though that still puts it 12.5 percentage points ahead of its nearest rival, Walmart-owned Asda, which has gained share since gobbling up Danish discount retailer Netto.
Savers will benefit from Plum’s 4.94% money market account
Savers will benefit from Plum's 4.94% product that relies on money market funds that closely track the Bank of England’s base rate. We explain why this could be good news for savers.
By Rupert Hargreaves Published
Revealed: Best funds for DIY investors
Wondering where to put your money? With thousands of investment options, which funds, ETFs, trusts are the best? Bestinvest has just released it’s best funds list - we have all the details to help you strengthen your portfolio
By Kalpana Fitzpatrick Published