A Message from the ARA’s President Relating to a Possible Merger

UPDATE

As you may have heard, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been in recent talks with the National Retail Association (NRA) and the Major Retailers Group (MRG) in relation to a potential merger of the three organisations to form one national retail voice.

The NRA has withdrawn from these merger discussions this week.

The ARA is the largest retail representative body with over 7,800 members, just like you, Australia-wide. The ARA proudly represents retailers of all sizes with over 80% of members being small and medium retailers, across a diverse range of products and services.

The ARA and the MRG remain committed to the eventual creation of a single voice to represent all Australian retail businesses, whether small, medium or large.

If you are interested to learn more, please see background details below.

Kind regards

Rowan Hodge
President

Background

Retail is a critical, integral component of Australia’s economy, and of our community:

– Retail is the largest private-sector employer in Australia

– $320bn is spent annually by Australian consumers in retail stores

– Retail comprises some 135,000 individual businesses employing 1.3 million Australians, many of them young people and women

– Our sector is a pillar of the Australian economy and a driver of economic activity and growth.

In terms of negotiations which were discontinued by an NRA media release on Tuesday, the following points offer a cursory timeline:

– The ARA, Australia’s largest representative body for the retail sector – in conjunction with the MRG including Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi and Chemist Warehouse – opened discussions in 2018 with a view to creating a single representative body

– Following a discussion with JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Murray, Australia’s last remaining state-based retail association – the Brisbane-based NRA – made a formal request to join these discussions, which was accepted, with a view to amalgamating the three bodies

– A steering committee comprising representatives from the ARA, the NRA and the MRG was formed and an external project manager appointed. This was Mark Gell of Reputation Edge, who was instrumental in merging the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand

– All three groups agreed to confidentiality protocols in the interests of their employees and members

– Nine months of constructive discussions and negotiations ensued, during which all parties expressed commitment to the amalgamation process

– As recently as 26 July 2019, the NRA provided a letter in support of the merger

– A positive meeting on 2 August 2019 reached consensus on the following points:

– The current NRA CEO Dominique Lamb would be appointed CEO of the merged entity

– A recognised and respected Independent Chair would be appointed to the Board of the new organisation. They would be sourced externally to the ARA, NRA and the MRG

– The parties agreed the merged entity would be financially stronger than its predecessor organisations due to efficiency gains and economies of scale.

– On 13 August 2019, without discussion with the ARA or the MRG, or notice of its concerns, the NRA unilaterally notified its members and the media it had terminated negotiations.

The ARA and the MRG remain open and willing to continuing negotiations with the NRA.

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