Alcohol issues at supermarket
Despite concerns from police, Waiheke Countdown can continue selling alcohol.
The Auckland District Licensing Committee granted a renewal of the off licence for the supermarket in Ostend on November 2.
Police had called for the cancellation or suspension of the licence because the supermarket is alleged to have sold alcohol to an intoxicated person this year.
The allegation of selling alcohol to an intoxicated person is disputed and will be heard separately by the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority, said Countdown lawyer Allison Arthur-young.
In 2014, the old Countdown premises lost its licence to sell alcohol for five days, after being caught selling alcohol to a minor in a police undercover operation.
Since then, a new Countdown has opened on Belgium Street, but police said the new supermarket does not have appropriate systems, staff and training to comply with liquor laws.
The company behind Countdown, General Distributors Limited, has been suspended from selling alcohol 17 times since 2014, Constable Sebastian Miklos said.
According to the decision, police representative Gary Whittle said ‘‘the large number of serious offences from one large national licensee needed to be taken into consideration’’.
Waiheke Countdown’s alcohol responsibility inspector Paul Radich said the supermarket’s systems were ‘‘not foolproof’’, but he has been working to improve them.
Arthur-young argued that the breach in 2014 did not apply to the new store because it occurred at the old premises. She said the supermarket now has ‘‘robust and appropriate’’ systems for alcohol sales.
The company has 172 licences, 4000 approved alcohol sellers and 2.5 million transactions a week - ‘‘set in that context, 17 breaches since 2014 were not significant,’’ she argued.
The licensing committee agreed that the 2014 breach from the old Countdown premises could not be attributed to the new store.
‘‘We do not consider that it is relevant that it is the same applicant or the same general manager,’’ the committee stated.
The high number of suspensions at General Distributors’ stores are only significant when seen out of context of the high number of transactions, the committee decided.