Liquor licences to be reviewed

The owners of the Octagon Night 'n Day Foodstore will have a rehearing before the Liquor Licensing Authority in February and other convenience stores will have a nervous wait to see if their liquor licences are renewed, following a landmark decision this week.

In the decision released by the authority, Judge Bill Unwin said the Victoria Night 'n Day, in Christchurch, was likely to be refused a liquor licence when it came up for renewal in March.

The authority also declared its intention to reclassify convenience stores as dairies, which cannot sell alcohol, rather than as grocery stores, which can.

It was the first time a convenience store with a current liquor licence had been refused a renewal, although new stores have been refused before now.

Dunedin District Licensing Authority inspector Tony Mole said he expected most convenience stores which could not prove their main purpose was for selling household goods would lose their licences when they came up for renewal.

The liquor licences of the four other Night 'n Day Foodstores in Dunedin come up for renewal between April next year and April 2011.

The liquor licence for the Milton Night 'n Day comes up for renewal in February, Mr Mole said.

In November last year the Octagon Night 'n Day Foodstore, a new store, was refused a liquor licence which was the first test of a "line-in-the-sand decision".

The decision came after the authority rejected an off licence application for a convenience store in Wellington Airport in 2008 because of "unrealistic expectations that inappropriate businesses could qualify for a grocery-style off licence".

Until then, a legal loophole had meant convenience stores were being granted licences, despite the Sale of Liquor Act stating only supermarkets, premises where liquor sale or manufacture is the principal business, or grocery stores where the principal business is household foodstuffs, could be granted licences.

In the Octagon decision there was a provision for the franchise owners, Katie and Murray Devereux, to apply to the authority for a rehearing if they provided further sales figures, which they had decided to do.

The owners had appealed the authority's decision, but because of the rehearing, had filed a notice of discontinuance on the appeal.

Night 'n Day Foodstores director Andrew Lane, of Dunedin, declined to comment about the fate of the other stores' liquor licences when contacted yesterday.

Their are 27 Night 'n Day Foodstores in the South Island.

sarah.harvey@odt.co.nz

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