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The ARA has appointed Paul Zahra, former CEO of David Jones, as its new leader.
The ARA has appointed Paul Zahra, former CEO of David Jones, as its new leader.

New CEO for growing Australian Retailers Association

Paul Zahra, former CEO of David Jones, will take over as CEO of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) when executive director Russell Zimmerman retires in May.

The news of his appointment to the ARA was announced as 12 major retail chains – including Woolworths, Bunnings, Chemist Warehouse, JB Hi-Fi, Super Retail Group, Costco, Harvey Norman, Priceline and Australia Post – confirmed they would join the body.

The ARA currently has 7,500 members, largely comprised of small and medium enterprises.

"I strongly believe [Paul Zahra] is more than capable of taking the ARA to the next level"
Russell Zimmerman, Australian Retailers Association

Zimmerman, who had led the ARA for 10 years, indicated his intention to retire in October 2019. He expressed support for Zahra’s appointment, saying, “I strongly believe he is more than capable of taking the ARA to the next level as it forges ahead, consolidating around its mission to provide one voice for the retail sector in Australia.”

Rowan Hodge, president ARA, added, “We are delighted to have secured a leader of Paul’s calibre to lead the ARA as it strives to bring the industry together and create one voice for small, medium and large retailers.”

Zahra has worked in the retail industry for 35 years and held senior roles at Officeworks and Target. He was managing director and CEO of David Jones from 2010 to 2014, leading it to its strongest sales in seven years and growing its digital presence.

Of his appointment to lead the ARA, he said, “In the last 20 years, the disruption and transformation of the sector has been significant as a result of ongoing changes in technology and consumer behaviour. However, what excites me is the untold story of innovation, whether in store formats, in online marketplaces, or the many small businesses that started life in someone’s living room...

“I am optimistic about what lies ahead and look forward to supporting and advocating for our members as we overcome challenges, embrace transformation and evolve with the customers we serve.”

The Australian retail industry generates $320 billion annually and is the nation’s second largest employer. Retailers are represented by two industry bodies – the National Retailers Association (NRA) and the ARA.

A proposed merger of the two organisations collapsed in August 2019 when the NRA abruptly pulled out of negotiations. Woolworths, Chemist Warehouse and JB Hi-Fi had expressed support for the merger, with a spokesperson for Woolworths saying at the time, “We continue to believe retailers of all sizes – and the hundreds of thousands of workers the industry supports – would be far better served by a single, united and strong national representative body.”

Under Zahra’s leadership, the ARA will continue its mission to unite the Australian retail sector and represent its interests to the government.

 

More reading:
A glimmer of hope and a time for unity
Disappointing results do not a recession make
Policy and politics must work to help retailers
 











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