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Retail Sector Seek Single, Unified Voice

The Australian Retailers’ Association (ARA) has expanded its membership with five major retailers joining what could become a single unified voice for the retail sector of Australia.

As reported by InsideRetail, Russell Zimmerman has announced his retirement alongside the entry of Woolworths, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Bunnings and Dymocks to the ARA, where hopefully the five new major retailers and a new ‘energetic’ and ‘youthful’ leader will take the retail group into next phase.

This next phase was explicitly outlined by the freshly joined members, with Woolworths stating its support for a strong, single voice for the Australian retail industry.

It comes following the failed merger between the ARA and the National Retail Association (NRA), which would have delivered the estimated $300 billion industry its unified voice to government.

The move was called off by the NRA over concerns regarding the finances of the ARA, in addition to its impact on the current member base made up of primarily small and medium businesses.

It comes as the NRA announced a rise of 0.2% for retail sales during September prior to the busy holiday period where CEO Dominique Lamb expects a ‘sales rebound’ despite the impact of ‘tax cuts and reductions to interest rates’.

Lamb is encouraging shoppers ‘to indulge in some retail therapy between now and the end of the year’, warning that a poor Christmas period for retail will have a knock-on effect on other parts of the economy.

Despite the NRA’s push for higher sales and revenue over the holiday period, the ARA is pushing its idea of a single, unified voice to government as well as their goal of promoting retail as a career to government, according to Zimmerman.

‘We want to keep government aware of what a great employer we are, of the opportunity in the sector and how we can ensure people coming out of school see retail as a great way to start their careers, whether as an HR manager or a buyer or planner,’ said Zimmerman.

JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Murray noted that all retailers ‘want to ensure government policy encourages employment, sustainability, safety in the workplace and retail careers’.

Bunnings CEO Debbie Poole echoed this remarks when speaking to Inside Retail, highlight the focus of the ARA is to promote ‘retail as a career of choice’ alongside technology implementations to increase productivity, labelling it ‘a win for everyone’.

Unfortunately, this leaves the NRA in a rather uncomfortable position in comparison to the size and might that the ARA now has with its five major retailer additions, which has now increased from, 2500 to 9500 members.

While Zimmerman has not revealed his successor, he stated his confidence that when he does go, it will be ‘in a very strong position’.

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