Liquor ban imposed on Waiheke Countdown

CHRISTMAS BOOZE: Countdown will not be allowed to sell alcohol from Sunday, December 7 to Friday, December 12.
Diana Worthy

CHRISTMAS BOOZE: Countdown will not be allowed to sell alcohol from Sunday, December 7 to Friday, December 12.

Countdown Waiheke is facing a ban on selling booze for five days next month after being caught selling to someone under age earlier this year.

The store's off-licence liquor section is having to close between 7am on December 7 until 7am on December 12.

It means people stocking up for Christmas and New Year will be unable to buy alcohol at the store during that time.

The duty manager's General Manager's Certificate was also suspended for 30 days.

Both penalties from the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority are similar in severity to the hardline stance taken against Takapuna Countdown after a breach two years ago.

The store was given a seven day suspension and loss of the manager's certificate for 30 days following the sale of alcohol to a man so intoxicated he could hardly stand.

In Waiheke's case, the penalties are the result of a police controlled-purchase, or 'sting', operation on July 17.

It was to catch any Waiheke off-licence holders not complying with the law over sales to minors and resulted in the suspension of at least two off-licences.

Waiheke Wine Centre has already served a four-day off-licence suspension, which happened between October 13 and 17 this year, and Countdown is next.

A Countdown spokeswoman says it is the first time the Waiheke store has failed a controlled purchase operation but it recognises and accepts its actions and the appropriate penalty.

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She says failures nationwide are rare.

Countdown Waiheke store manager Johnathon Lingham says: "We care deeply about our Waiheke customers and are disappointed that not all of our processes were followed on this occasion.

"We have a strong record here on Waiheke with no prior breaches, but where we get it wrong, we understand there are serious consequences including losing our licence for these five days.

"It's not what we stand for as a business and we've taken the opportunity to reiterate our training with our team.

"We apologise to our Waiheke customers for letting them down and for any inconvenience while we are unable to sell beer and wine at this time of year."

Countdown says it cannot comment on the financial cost to its Waiheke store because the information is commercially sensitive.

 - Waiheke Marketplace

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