NRA and ARA merger is off the table―what does this mean for retail?

The National Retail Association (NRA) has pulled out of a pending merger with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), citing concerns that the voices of small and medium-sized retailers would be lost in the new organisation.

NRA chairman Mark Brodie says the association’s board has taken the view that the proposed merger would diminish the voices of existing members, and surrender control of the NRA’s very strong financial position.

“The NRA board ultimately decided that it could not support a proposal to give major retailers guaranteed positions on the board of a new organisation,” says Brodie.

After negotiating for nine months, the board determined that it must put the interests of its members first and decline the proposed merger in its current form.

“Although the NRA already has a number of large retailers among its membership, we have always taken the position that all members are equal. We believed the proposed structure would disadvantage our existing members, and ultimately the NRA board had to make its decision in the best interests of those people we represent.”

The NRA also has some financial concerns including the very large increase in executive salaries which was to be underwritten by contributions from large retailers.

“We were concerned that this was not a sound footing for a viable, long-term industry association. As a result, we have informed the ARA and the working group that we can’t proceed on this basis.

“However, the board remains supportive of a pure merger between our two organisations and is of the view that it should continue to be a long-term goal.

"And we also remain open to working collaboratively with the ARA on issues of mutual interest to our members and the broader retail sector, as we have done in the past. These issues have included Modern Award Reviews, tax reform and campaigns in support of retail workers,” adds Brodie.