123 Mart ordered to pay almost $340,000 for selling unsafe toys
The 123 Mart has been fined $337,000 for selling choking hazards and flammable children's pyjamas without proper labelling.
Budget chain The 123 Mart was sentenced at the Auckland District Court on Friday, for selling about 9000 toys that did not comply with the safety standards, and 1200 children's pyjama pants that did not have fire danger labels.
The Commerce Commission prosecuted The 123 Mart in July on 17 charges under the Fair Trading Act for supplying unsafe toys.
The company also sold 11,000 items of clothing that failed to have care, origin and content labels.
Judge Rob Ronayne said 123 Mart had been warned twice by the consumer watchdog but, "continued to offend and lied as a cover-up. Its behaviour had been cavalier and brazen".
"It's particularly important where babies and children are concerned the product safety standards are complied with," he said.
The lack of any known harm was "fortuitous".
The 123 Mart went into liquidation in September. The company had 60 stores throughout New Zealand under four different brands: The 123 Mart, Dollar Store 123, King Dollar Store and MaxOut.
Judge Ronayne said he did not know if 123 Mart could pay the fine, "but it is appropriate to send the right message in this case".
During the July hearing, 123 Mart pleaded guilty to five charges relating to children's sleeping pants and clothing which failed to comply with labelling requirements for care, origin and content.
The commission said importers, distributors and retailers must ensure products they sell comply mandatory product safety standards and consumer information standards.
Commission head of investigations Ritchie Hutton said: "With Christmas approaching, the commission urges toy importers, distributors and retailers to ensure that the products they sell comply with all of the mandatory standards and most importantly, are safe for use by young children".
Further investigations into retailers' product safety standards were ongoing, he said.
"We want to make importers, distributors and retailers aware of the standards they must comply with, and aware of the consequences of not doing so."