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National Retail Association Merger Axed

The National Retail Association (NRA) has axed its proposed merger with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), ceasing nine months of negotiation over concerns it would not represent the needs of small to medium retailers.

The Australian Retailers Association is considered among the peak industry bodies for Australia’s $310 billion retail sector, with the NRA merger tipped to offer a combined voice against government changes (e.g. penalty rates).

The NRA is considered more closely aligned with small to medium retailers, with the ARA often representing large organisations.

Previous reports suggested early meetings about the merger were lead by JB Hi-Fi Chief Executive, Richard Murray, Chemist Warehouse Founder, Jack Gance, and Woolworths’ Head of Government, Christian Bennett.

Despite claims the merger would offer a stronger voice for small to medium sized retailers, today’s news suggests contrasting concerns.

“Sadly, we were not able to strike a deal that would have secured a merger while also protecting the interests of NRA members,” said NRA Chairman, Mark Brodie, in an email to NRA members today.

Several contentious issues included the large increase in executive summaries in the proposed new entity, plus an imbalance in the financial situation of the two organisations.

Mr Brodie claims the ARA did not accept the NRA’s legal advice about how the merger should proceed, with other involved parties allegedly not honouring their pledge to share financial information.

Brodie’s primary criticism was a lack of synergy on the core purpose of the combined entity, notably a lack of emphasis on the NRA’s focus towards small to medium retailers.

He claims the proposal to reserve two board seats for major retailers would tilt “the balance in favour of one small sector of the industry.”

The NRA states the proposed merger would essentially have been a takeover by the ARA and larger retailers, versus the NRA and its members’ interests.

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