Garden centre chain fined for Easter trading

A nationwide garden centre chain that "cynically" flouts trading laws by opening for business on Good Friday every year has vowed to continue the illegal trading, despite today being hit with maximum fines.

Oderings opened five stores in Christchurch and outlets in Havelock North, Napier, Upper Hutt, Hamilton, and Palmerston North on April 6, Good Friday, this year.

Today at Christchurch District Court, a judge said there was no reason he shouldn't impose the maximum fine of $1000 for each breach of the trading law.

Judge Raoul Neave described Oderings' move as a "cynical piece of offending", adding that the firm was "blatant in its intent to disregard and defy the law".

Oderings were fined $10,000 on each charge plus court costs totalling $1328.90.

The Christchurch-based garden centre has opened on Good Friday every year since 1970 and say it's a crucial retail day for the company.

They claim that the maximum $1000 fine - which it gets almost every year - is worth the risk.

When the case last called, Judge Gary Macaskill said the Government's labour service should take stronger legal steps to stop businesses from flagrantly flouting public holiday trading bans.

"I noted some time ago that if the Department of Labour was serious about nurseries and other similar business opening on these days, then they should go to the High Court and ask for an injunction to stop them from doing so. But they don't, and one wonders why," Judge Macaskill said.

Oderings director Darryn Odering today said the judges were entitled to their "outdated opinions".

But his company believed it was "a bad law", adding: "We will continue to open on Good Friday."

"Who suffers? The customers don't, our staff don't. Nobody does. It's simply a bad law," Mr Odering said.

"I was working at our Barrington St centre this year and we had more than 1000 customers. We were bloody busy. If the demand wasn't there, we wouldn't do it."

The Labour service, now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said it takes steps to enforce shop trading hours rules in accordance with the legislation that Parliament has provided.

"The fines awarded represent the maximum penalty available under the legislation," a spokesman said.

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