The ARA Council is the governing board of the Australian Retailers Association, comprising representatives from small, medium and large Australian retail businesses.


Steve Plarre

ARA Secretary

Steve is the CEO of the century old Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses retail baker chain and a member of the ARA Council for around 6 years. Steve is a 4th generation Aussie retailer in a business that has navigated two World Wars, The Great Depression and his own multi-generational family challenges. Steve is very passionate about the retail industry.

Owner, Managing Director

Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses


Steven Younane

ARA Vice President

Steve is the Co-Founder and CEO of Retail Prodigy Group which holds the master retail franchise for NIKE stores across Australia and NZ with the distribution rights for TOMS and Timbuk2. Steve joined NIKE Australia as Retail Director and then to NIKE’s HQ to head up the retail division for North America. Steve’s has also held leadership roles at Jeanswest, Myer and Luxottica. 

CEO/Co-founder Retail Prodigy Group (Nike Retail)


Nicole Sheffield

Acting President

Nicole leads the development of Wesfarmers’ Group-wide data and digital ecosystem.  This is a new role for Wesfarmers, reflecting the strategic importance and growth potential of our data and digital strategies. Prior to joining Wesfarmers, Nicole held a number of leadership roles. Most recently she was the Executive General Manager, Community & Consumer, at Australia Post.

Managing Director Data

and Digital, Wesfarmers


Drew Meads

ARA Acting Treasurer

Drew is the Chairman of the Forty Winks Group and has operated a Forty Winks franchise for the past 15 years. Drew has an intimate knowledge of franchising and is a skilled director with extensive experience in governance, strategy and risk mitigation. Drew also has experience in the hotel and resort industry with several multinational brands.

Franchise owner, chairman

Forty Winks Group


Jane McNally

Jane has over 30 years’ experience in international retail including major UK fashion businesses Primark, Alexon, Peacocks & Dorothy Perkins. Jane has been a Board Member for 18 years and has been a highly successful CEO for the past 11 years, across a range of private capital, listed, and founder-owned businesses.  



ARA Council Member

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Erica Berchtold

ARA Council Member

Erica Berchtold is a passionate, energetic and highly-driven business leader with over 20 years experience in the retail industry. She has an exceptional record and ability of building, leading and motivating teams to deliver outstanding results and she has continued to break through the glass ceiling & thrive within traditional male-dominated executive positions. 




Rowan Hodge

Rowan is a retail leader with 25 years of leadership experience in the franchise sector. Until 2018, Rowan was the CEO at Battery World Australia. Previously, Rowan was a Retail Manager for Westfield, CEO for Domino’s Pizza Belgium and various other leadership roles. He has great passion for trends in retailing and franchise governance.


Andersens Floor Coverings

ARA Council Member


Jack Gance

ARA Council Member

Jack is the Chairman of the Chemist Warehouse Group and a Co-founder of this $5 billion retail group. Jack has a wealth of experience in retail having been involved in the growth of the business since 1972. Additionally, Jack created the largest distribution business in Pharmacy and created the iconic brands Le Specs, Le Tan, Australis and Colours of Australis.

Owner, chairman 

Chemist Warehouse


Sharon Beaumont

ARA Council Member

Sharon has more than 20 years’ experience in leadership and human resources roles across the retail, finance, health and franchising industries. Her roles have seen her contribute to organisations such as Grill’d, Australian Unity, Coles Myer and currently with 7-Eleven Australia. Sharon brings her skills as a human-focused strategy leadership expert to the ARA board.

GM of People and Communication 7-Eleven


Katie McNamara

ARA Council Advisor

Katie joined Super Retail Group in April 2019, where she was leading Digital Strategy & iX across Asia Pacific. She has responsibility for corporate & business unit strategy, analytics & customer strategy across the business. Katie has over 25 years of experience in the retail industry, starting with owing her own Pharmacies in Tasmania & extending across several multinational retailers.

Chief Strategy and Customer Officer,

Super Retail Group

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Josephine Barbaro

ARA Council Member

Josephine Barbaro is currently the CFO of APG&CO, owners of Iconic brands Sportscraft, Saba and JAG.  Josephine is a Chartered Accountant and has more than 25 years’ experience in Finance.   Prior to joining APG&Co, Josephine held Senior Finance positions at Woolworths Limited for more than 15 years.  Josephine has a great passion for Retail and Fashion.

Chief Financial Officer,

APG & Co.


Ralph Edwards

ARA Council Member

Ralph has an extensive 30 years of experience as an owner/operator of varied and successful small to medium-sized businesses centred around retail, franchising, property leasing, wholesale, marketing, distribution, design and import. Over the last 16 years, Ralph has occupied long term positions with the Franchise Council of Australia  and the QLD Small Business Advisory Council.

Owner, Managing Director

Bright Eyes Sunglasses


Sarah Hunter

ARA Council Member

Prior to joining Officeworks, Sarah worked across many areas of the Coles Group in positions including Financial Controller, State General Manager Victoria, General Manager Workplace Strategy and most recently Demerger Program Director, overseeing Coles’ implementation of the proposed demerger from Wesfarmers.

Managing Director


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Krista Diez-Simson

ARA Council Member

Krista Diez-Simson has over 15 years’ experience in retail, with a passion for small to medium sized, privately owned and founder-led businesses. Her retail experience includes fashion, food and wine through to her current role at leading plus-size women’s fashion retailer, Taking Shape. For the past six years, Krista has combined her love of finance with operations holding dual CFO/COO roles. 

Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer

Taking Shape

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Maria McCarthy

ARA Council Advisor

General Manager Corporate Affairs


Maria is passionate about working with leading Australian companies to help them protect their brand and reputation within the community. To this end, she has 30 years’ experience successfully managing Communications, Marketing, Sponsorship, Operations and Sales functions for large Australian companies.