No liquor sales as Countdown faces appeal of alcohol licence in Marlborough

The new Countdown Redwoodtown.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

The new Countdown Redwoodtown.

Marlborough's newest supermarket is not yet allowed to sell booze because its alcohol licence might be appealed.

A cordon was erected around the liquor department at the new Countdown Redwoodtown, in Blenheim, during its first day of trading on Thursday.

A Countdown spokesman said the store was granted an alcohol licence, but it could not sell alcohol because a medical officer of health might appeal the licence.

The officer and a licensing inspector opposed the design of the store's liquor department because it was too exposed to customers.

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An opposition report submitted in March said the alcohol area was located to the immediate right of the front door, with displays facing the produce department, and all customers had to walk past it.

"The applicant could go further in limiting the exposure of shoppers in supermarkets to displays and promotions of alcohol," the report said.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act said customers should not have to walk through the alcohol section to get to the main part of the store.

Countdown operations manager Jo McNaught​ said the main body of the store was aisles one to 11, and most customers would turn left and miss the alcohol section altogether.

Countdown agreed to three changes to their liquor department plans before the hearing on March 31.

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They raised the height of the shelves near the entrance from 1.5 metres to 1.8m, there would be no alcohol displayed at the end of the aisles, and end-of-aisle displays would be the same height as alcohol shelving.

The medical officer of health said the change were not sufficient to minimise exposure, but the committee granted the licence application on Wednesday.

Countdown Redwoodtown could sell alcohol from April 23 unless the medical officer of health appealed the decision.

 - The Marlborough Express

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