Arcadia faces disability action

24-08-2006

A disabled person is taking British retail giant Arcadia to court for failing to provide sufficient access to one of its stores.

Joanne Holland, a 39-year-old from Derbyshire, is receiving support from the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) in her lawsuit against Arcadia, whose Burton store in Stafford failed to provide her with access to the shop floor.

Having been faced with no alternative to access to the store except a flight of stairs, sales assistants offered to bring items from the shop to Ms Holland outside, an offer she rejected as "ludicrous".

"Having goods that I can't see to choose from brought down to me is not a reasonable alternative… in fact it's a joke," she said.

"It also puts pressure on me to buy. Such demeaning treatment has forced me to take legal action."

Bert Massie, the DRC's chairman, pointed out that under the Disability Discrimination Act introduced in 2004 all shops have a legal obligation to provide access to all areas of their shops for disabled people.

"Arcadia should be doing much more for their disabled customers," he said.

"Offering to bring goods out to Ms Holland might be acceptable for a small business with limited resources, but for Arcadia to be operating such practices is unacceptable."

The Arcadia group is one of Britain's largest retail organisations. Its portfolio of shops also includes Miss Selfridge, Top Shop, Top Man and Dorothy Perkins.

Mr Massie said that Ms Holland's case highlighted a much greater problem for Arcadia, suggesting that "nearly half" of Arcadia's shops could be breaching the disability legislation.


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