A DEPARTMENT store had to be evacuated twice in one day after customers spotted rats in the store.

The High Wycombe branch of C & A in the Chilterns Shopping Centre, Frogmoor, had to evacuate all the customers and close the store for more than an hour after a rodent was spotted last week.

Pest control experts were called in at 10.15am and staff re-opened the clothes store to the public at 11.35am.

But later that day customer Alice Vranch got a major shock when she moved a pair of boots in the store and saw a rat flee.

The store had to be closed again from 6.45pm until 7pm so the vermin could be properly removed.

Miss Vranch, 25, from Cock Lane, Wycombe Marsh, said: "I moved a boot on the floor and there was a huge rat.

"The staff said 'We had this trouble this morning but we thought we had got rid of it'. It was quite a shock to see it. It was huge."

The interior design student said: I intend to phone their head office. This is the year 2000, not 1900. You can't have rats in Wycombe now."

Chris Williams, head of corporate communications at C & A, said:

"It seems very peculiar that it should be in a clothes store because there is no food around. I have never known this happen before.

"The whole thing is very unfortunate and we do apologise to the lady but I do believe the store followed the right procedure. We are very, very sorry about it. If sufficient apologies were not made at the time it is very unfortunate."