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Two Major Australian Retail Bodies Announce Merger

Two retail peak bodies, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and the National Retail Association (NRA), have announced plans for a proposed merger.

Once approved by their respective members, it will create a single unified body representing the A$420 billion sector.

The two not-for-profit organisations have signed a heads-of-agreement for the amalgamation proposal.

While the two entities formalise their amalgamation application to the Fair Work Commission, the two organisations will also collaborate on joint advocacy work within the priority areas of retail crime, retail trading hours and the industry application to vary the General Retail Industry Awards.

A new framework for the proposed new entity will be announced subsequently with both organisations collaborating wherever possible.

ARA president Nicole Sheffield said a unified sector is a winning proposition for retail and the broader economy. “It makes absolute sense to create one voice for retail, and to combine our strengths to support the growth of this vital sector which employs one in ten Australians,” said Sheffield.

The ARA has undertaken more than 120 years of advocacy from its industrial revolution beginnings in 1903 as The Master Retailers Association of NSW, to Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 120,000 retail shop fronts and online stores.

Sheffield added, “Whilst the resilience of retailers has been second to none in recent years, the headwinds we face as a sector have never been more challenging – from supply chain challenges and retail crime to sustainability outcomes and the rise of artificial intelligence. Joining forces for the good of our industry is an obvious win for all parties,” she said.

NRA Chair Tim Schaafsma meanwhile echoed those sentiments adding, “There’s great strength in numbers and we are confident our members and the sector as a whole will appreciate and embrace this progression towards a unified voice for retail. The merged entity will truly represent the whole Australian retail sector, irrespective of size, segment or geographic location.”

The amalgamation of the two bodies comes as ChannelNews reported earlier this week that retailers in Australia can breathe a sigh of relief after the Reserve Bank of Australia left the cash rate on hold at a 12-year high of 4.35 per cent. If there was any increase in that, it could have resulted in retailers facing further declines in sales.

Apart from that, one of the key areas that the newly formed entity will tackle head-on in Australia is the growing area of concern around retail theft. Retail theft is surging in Australia with consumer electronics and small appliance retailers along with department stores investing millions in prevention. Australian retailers are losing A$15 million a day to sophisticated shoplifters. In Victoria which has one of the highest retail theft rates, in-store theft increased last year by 38.7 per cent growing from 20,309 incidents in 2022 up to 28,174, according to the Crime Statistics Agency.

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