The Commerce Commission is urging businesses to observe safety standards after a budget retailer was heavily fined for selling thousands of toys, sleeping garments and other clothing.
The retailer, 123 Mart Ltd, was convicted and fined $337,000 in court today (Friday) for selling the items in 60 retail stores throughout New Zealand under the names The 123 Mart, Dollar Store 123, King Dollar Store and Max!Out.
Among the unsafe items the now-defunct chain sold were about 9,000 toys, 1,200 children’s sleeping pants, and 11,000 items of a variety of clothing.
The sleeping pants did not have the required fire danger labels, and the other clothing items failed to comply with consumer information labelling requirements for care, origin and content. The toys were unsafe for children under three years old.
“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,” says the Commission’s Head of Investigations, Ritchie Hutton.
In sentencing in the Auckland District Court, Judge Rob Ronayne noted that 123 Mart was twice warned by the Commission “and even after prosecution commenced it 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, and that the “choking hazards in this case exposed young children to the risk of injury or even death.”
In late September, 123 Mart Ltd went into liquidation and Judge Ronayne said he did not know if there will eventually be an ability to pay the fine imposed, “but it is appropriate to send the right message in this case.”
The prosecution arose from the Commission’s programme of unannounced visits to retail stores, and further investigations and litigation are underway.
In July 2017, 123 Mart Ltd was found guilty in the Auckland District Court on 17 charges under the Fair Trading Act for supplying unsafe toys. During that 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.