A north Liverpool convenience store has escaped punishment after counterfeit spirits were found on the premises.
Liverpool Council’s licensing and gambling sub-committee will take no further action against the owners and operators of best-one store on Moss Way, Croxteth after a review of its licence was instigated by Trading Standards. The review was arranged after concerns were raised about the business potentially being in breach of its responsibilities to prevent crime and disorder.
The shop is owned and run by Pranavi Ltd and its directors Devanayagam and Sathiyeswary Arulanantham.
Mark Wainwright, Liverpool Council enforcement officer, told the committee alongside Merseyside Police, his team visited the shop in April. On this occasion, Mr Wainwright said five 75cl bottles of vodka were found behind the till with counterfeit duty stamps.
The officer asked a member of staff – a student working two days a week – where the bottles had come from, to be told they had been bought from a Bestway cash and carry. Mr Wainwright confirmed his team had been informed the cash and carry did not stock the brand.
The designated premises supervisor was not present at the time of the visit, with staff members asked to provide receipts for the purchase of the vodka. Mr Wainwright said: “We’d been out with police visiting shops in Croxteth, concentrating on illegal vapes.
“There has been no counterfeit alcohol in Liverpool since 2015, we’d almost cleansed the city of it, then all of a sudden, it turned up again.” The enforcement officer told councillors the origin of the vodka was not known, but appeared real.
He said: “It could be genuinely from Poland with a counterfeit sticker or it could have been assembled on an industrial unit in this country.”
Ian Rushton, agent acting on behalf of the business, said both men had been “genuine responsible people and licensees” previously and had not had issues before with the police or local authorities across their sites in Croxteth, Garston or Runcorn. Mr Rushton said on the day in question the bottles were delivered, the supplier “turned up unannounced” and left a box with a member of staff.
The licensing agent said it was “quite common” for suppliers to visit shops and leave samples and the items had been left behind the till, becoming obscured by other boxes. Mr Rushton said the bottles had never been on sale or on display, claiming it had been “really unfortunate” and the owners “did not want it in their shop.”
He said: “We accept clearly the bottles shouldn’t have been there. The owners have spent a massive amount in investment over the years, the shop means a lot to them.
“They’ve been worried about this hearing and it’s a successful, busy shop.” Confirming no further action would be taken against the business, Cllr Christine Banks, committee chair, said: “Let me tell you, you need to look at your training policy and you need to look at your staff.
“You’re the boss, you run the business, you can’t keep blaming the staff. You make sure you run that business professionally. I hope lessons are learned.”