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Retail peak rules out merger

Merger talks between Australia’s two retail peaks have come to an end after concerns were raised that the bid would push SMB’s out of the organisation.

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The National Retailers Association (NRA) on Tuesday announced it will not be merging with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) but said that it would be open to continuing the discussions in the future.

After nine months of negotiations, the peak’s board decided against the move, saying that giving major retailers a guaranteed place on the board of the ARA was not in the interests of its members.

Concerns about the financial viability of the organisation and the potential diminishment of the voices of existing members were the main reasons for the decision, according to the peak.

NRA Chairman Mark Brodie said that going ahead with the merger would ultimately be a disservice to existing members.

“Although the NRA already has a number of large retailers among its membership, we have always taken the position that all members are equal.

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“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.”

Concerns about the financial viability of the proposed new organisation – in particular, the large salary increase which would be underwritten by contributions from large retailers – were a motivating factor for the decision, Mr Brodie said.

“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 cannot proceed on this basis.”

While the bid has been ruled out in the immediate future, the peak still intends to continue the discussions in the future, Mr Brodie said.

“However, the Board remains supportive of a pure merger between our two organisations and is of the view that is 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.”

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