Primark has concluded that the ‘cry for help’ labels found sewn onto garments bought from its Swansea stores are a hoax carried out in the UK.

The value retailer carried out an investigation after two shoppers in its Swansea stores told the South Wales Evening Post this week that they found extra labels sewn into items bought last year. One read: “Forced to work exhausting hours” and the second read: “Degrading sweatshop conditions”.

Primark said: “Our investigation…has led us to the conclusion that it is more likely than not, to have been a hoax carried out in the UK.”

“The labels are clearly from the same source. It is almost impossible to imagine circumstances in which such similar labels could have been sewn onto the garments at the factory where they were made, given that they were made by different suppliers, in different factories, on different continents, one in Romania and the other in India, thousands of miles apart.

“However, both garments carrying the hoax labels were bought from our Swansea store in 2013.

“It may be no more than a coincidence that an exhibition of labels of a similar kind was held in Swansea, also in 2013. Visitors were encouraged to sew labels, using similar wording and appearance to the hoax labels, onto clothing.”

The retailer said it was continuing to investigate a separate incident that emerged this week of a note found in a pair of cropped trousers bought from its store in Northern Ireland. It said investigations were being carried out in the UK and China.

Primark said it will continue to probe the discovery of a note in a pair of cropped trousers bought in its Belfast store in 2009, with investigations being carried out in the UK and China. It said it is also investigating whether it could be linked to the hoax Swansea labels.