A man wielding an axe stole $455 and a bottle of Jim Beam from Bottle-O Ngongotahā last night.

At 8.55pm, store owner Charanjit Dhillon told the Rotorua Daily Post he left briefly to get some dinner, leaving one staff member who had been working for him for six months.

At 9.01pm, a man walked into the store with a axe, threatening the staff member and demanding money.

After less than two minutes, the alleged offender left the store on foot with a bottle of Jim Beam and $455.

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Dhillon said he had just recently trained the employee with what to do in this situation.

"He was very calm ... he did so well."

When the staff member called him, Dhillon came back immediately.

"I thought, oh my God," he said.

Dhillon owned five Bottle-O's in the city and said this was the third time in 13 years across all his liquor stores that there had been an aggravated robbery.

The last time was five years ago when a woman with a knife robbed the store, the time before that was 10 years ago when a man with a "big knife" came into the store.

Dhillon praised the quick response of the police.

A police spokeswoman said police were called just after 9pm to an armed robbery at the liquor store.

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Police searched the area but were unable to locate the offender.

Inquiries were ongoing, she said.