Asda has become the first supermarket to sell mobility and independent living aids in-store.
>From 18 April, the chain began selling 15 different products from the new brand Mobilease in 75 of its stores. It hopes to expand the exclusive range later this year and extend it to more of its 350 stores.
The launch adds to a growing trend over the last 18 months for mainstream retailers to start stocking independent living equipment. It follows the Co-op brand Xest, which is sold online, B&Q’s Can Do range, and Argos.
Asda’s Mobilease products range from lightweight, foldable wheelchairs at £65.93, to two-packs of grab handles at £9.86, and products to make it easier to open cans (£2.98) and jars (£3.98) and operate taps (£5.88).
Asda said the “pioneering” move would “revolutionise” the way independent living aids were sold. It said the collaboration would “massively shake up” the industry and help break down the “stigma and taboos” that have prevented such items being sold in mainstream outlets.
Dermot McLaughlin, product development director of Mobilease, said selling the products in Asda would “gradually change people’s perception of disability and eradicate the unnecessary stigma that has surrounded mobility products”.
Chris Shaw, chief executive of the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF), which provides advice and information on daily living equipment, said she welcomed Asda’s move, “particularly because one of our interests is that older and disabled people can get the equipment they need and want as easily as possible. We believe there is room for everybody in the marketplace.”
But she said it was important that disabled and older people should be assessed by professionals, where necessary, before they bought equipment. And she said staff selling the products should be trained to offer the correct advice.
She advised consumers thinking of buying a product to visit the new DLF website resource, Living Made Easy, at www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk or call the DLF helpline on 0845 130 9177.