Seriously, who’s behind the Community Retailers?

Cigarettes by curran.kelleher.

[UPDATE: more skullduggery on Public Address, Soundbites from Richard Green and Glen Inwood on RNZ Morning Report]

Some interesting developments since yesterday: a brief response from the Association’s coordinator, a somewhat conflicting interview with Glenn Inwood and a very interesting poll of the ACR’s members. So let’s get cracking.

Dear Rory

Thank you for your email yesterday. I apologise for the late response, however, I was not in the office yesterday.

To answer your questions, the ACR is a trust, with retailers as trustees.

Your  calculations regarding the operational budget are incorrect. Some retailers have offered to pay above the $50 annual membership fee. There are more than 7000 independent retailers in New Zealand and we are currently in the process of a membership drive.

The association does not have a relationship with tobacco companies, and nor did Stay Displays as far as I’m aware.

As coordinator, it is my role to liaise with members and keep them informed of political developments that may affect the retailing environment. It is also my role to organise retailers to speak to the media. This is because they are passionate about their businesses and can best express their views.

If you wish, I can arrange for one of our spokespeople to contact you directly.

Many thanks and kind regards

Denielle Boulieris

ACR Coordinator

So according to Ms Boulieris there is no relationship with tobacco companies; they’re simply fervently supported by mum-and-dad dairy owners with a few hundred in the kitty and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Except that’s not quite the story NZPA and Michael Dickison of the NZ Herald got:

None of the Auckland shops listed as “members” on ACR’s website said they were in fact paying members. All but one said they had never even heard of the association.

The exception, Martin Ave Superette, said it had signed up to Stay Display’s campaign by email years ago, and had received a letter from ACR recently – but it ended up in the bin before it was read.

The owner said she had never paid anything to the campaign or the association.

Incidentally the Stay Displays Coalition’s website has been taken down in the last couple of hours, but I’d already copy-pasted their membership list – and it turns out it’s identical to the one on the shiny new ACR site, right down to the order and typographical errors. So the people the Association claims as its sole source of funding haven’t signed up and have actually never heard of them.

Incidentally ACR’s spokesman Richard Green acknowledges in the Herald story that Inwood did work with him on the ACR’s previous incarnation, the Stay Displays Coalition of Independent Retailers. What neither of them have explained is how they could afford Glenn Inwood in the first place, or why Glenn didn’t see any impropriety in working for both Stay Displays and Imperial Tobacco New Zealand.

So once more with feeling: who is behind the Association of Community Retailers?

3 Comments on “Seriously, who’s behind the Community Retailers?”

  1. […] The Habit: Imperial Tobacco comes clean, kind of In Rory MacKinnon on May 21, 2010 at 1:57 pm “The association does not have a relationship with tobacco companies, and nor did Stay Display… – Denielle Boulieris, Association of Community […]

  2. Kiwifrank says:

    I think it’s a reasonable assumption that Imperial Tobacco is using a front-organisation – in the case ‘ACR’ – to lobby for it’s agenda.

    This is not uncommon. The Unification Church (commonly known as ‘Moonies’) and Scientologists do precisely the same, because the parent groups have such bad reps.

    I think ACR have been busted and be prepared for them to slowly disappear back into the woodwork.

    Well done, “Media Darlings” – excellent investigative journalism.

    Next question – why didn’t mainstream media pick up on this? They have million-dollar news rooms and journalists at their disposal…

  3. […] earlier that year independent journalist Keith Ng and I dug deep into New Zealand’s newly formed Association of Community Retailers – leading Imperial […]

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