Wellington, July 18, 2017
Low-cost retailer ‘The 123 Mart Limited’ (123 Mart) has been found guilty in the Auckland District Court on 17 charges under the Fair Trading Act.
The charges all relate to 123 Mart’s failure to observe the mandatory product safety standard for children’s toys. It is one of six product safety standards enforced by the Commerce Commission.
Judge Ronayne found that 123 Mart sold seven types of toys with small parts that presented choking hazards for young children. It sold approximately 9000 units of the non-compliant toys.
The Commission laid charges against 123 Mart during 2016. 123 Mart elected a defended hearing on 22 charges, and five were dismissed at the conclusion of the trial.
123 Mart had earlier pleaded guilty to five charges that it sold more than 200 items of children’s sleeping pants which did not have the required fire danger labels, and more than 11,000 items of clothing which failed to comply with labelling requirements for care, origin and content.
The Commission has undertaken three investigations into 123 Mart. It was given compliance advice by the Commission in 2012, and warned by the Commission in 2013. Charges were laid in May 2016 and additional charges were laid in August 2016, following the third investigation.
During the charge period 123 Mart operated approximately 60 retail stores throughout New Zealand, with a multi-million-dollar turnover and a very large number of product lines. It specialises in low-cost consumer products including toys, costumes and cosmetics. It started operating in New Zealand in 1995 and has shops under four different brands: The 123 Mart, Dollar Store 123, King Dollar Store and Max!Out.
It has withdrawn all the toys and clothing from sale. A full list can be found here. Refunds are available from 123 Mart for the toys and sleeping pants if they are returned. The Commission does not advise using these products.
The decision was issued on July 7, 2017 and sentencing will be October 13, 2017.
As the matter is still before the courts, the Commission will not be commenting further at this time