Retailers 'bullied' into Sunday trading

WA’s Small Business Commissioner has launched two investigations triggered by eight complaints of shopping centre owners threatening or fining tenants who chose not to trade on Sundays.

The downside of WA’s introduction of Sunday trading two months ago emerged in State Parliament yesterday after Joondalup Labor MP Tony O’Gorman aired complaints from tenants at Carine Glades Shopping Centre.

One tenant claimed in an email read by Mr O’Gorman that he had sold his business after the “bullying and threatening behaviour” of centre manager Ross Duffield.

The tenant said he could not retain enough staff to open his shop on Sundays for six months while he was in Europe and when he returned Mr Duffield tried to fine him and threatened his lease.

Kerry Ludbrook, leaseholder of clothing boutique Diva Designs, complained to Carine Glades management about being told to open on Good Friday.

Ms Ludbrook’s daughter Alisha — who manages the Diva Designs — said she was pleased an investigation had been launched.

Small business parliamentary secretary Joe Francis told Parliament he was “alarmed” by the allegations, which he would refer to Small Business Commissioner David Eaton.

“The Government has made it perfectly clear that Sunday trading and extended trading are all about choice,” he said. “Not only for consumers but also business owners.

“A tenant cannot be forced into trading in any way.”

A Carine Glades spokeswoman said management would not comment until it had reviewed what was said in Parliament.