Your association has been supporting the Australian retail sector for close to 100 years. Over that time, the nature of our industry has changed dramatically, and the association has adapted to meet the changing demands on you and your businesses. One thing has not changed in that time, however, and never will. It is the steadfast commitment of the NRA to always put our members’ interests at the forefront of everything we do.
You may have seen this morning’s email from the NRA Chairman explaining that the lengthy merger discussions we’ve held with the Australian Retailers Association have drawn to a close. I know this will be disappointing to many members of both organisations who were keen to be part of a single national body. However, the NRA Board took the decision that the merger as it was proposed was contrary to the interests of our existing members. They felt the proposal to reserve Board positions in the new organisation for large retailers would have tilted the balance away from our thousands of small and medium-sized members. And they were reluctant to hand the NRA’s very strong asset base and financial position over to a new organisation in which you would have diluted voice.
So, reluctantly, the Board decided to end the merger talks for now. The NRA leadership is open to resuming those discussions in the future, but we will always insist that the proposed model does not disadvantage our members. I can assure you that we also remain open to working with the ARA – and other retail bodies – on important issues for the industry, just as we always have. These are issues such as Modern Award reviews, tax reform, business regulations and campaigns to support retail businesses and workers.
In the meantime, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that your association is not only Australia’s most representative retail voice, but one that provides an outstanding level of service to its members. From leasing to legal advice, human resources support, training and information on business regulations, the great team of workers here at the NRA strives every day to support you and help your business grow.
We have a strong financial position, and we have experienced very positive membership growth in recent years. Our associations with the NORA Network and other key players in the online environment have given the NRA an unparalleled understanding of the emerging trends and issues in retail. And the capability and expertise of our staff helps our members meet those challenges every day.
We have some exciting times ahead of us, including the industry’s big night out – the National Retail Awards at The Star in Sydney next month. I look forward to seeing many members there. And as always, I’m available to talk or via email if you want to share your views with me.