RILA and NRF Agree to Merger

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) yesterday announced the executive committees of both associations have unanimously agreed in principle to a merger that will create a single trade association representing retail interests in the nation’s capital.

Leaders of the two associations contend the new combined organization will provide enhanced value to both RILA and NRF’s members and help to ensure that the retail industry speaks with a one voice to advance the industry and its more than 15 million workers.

"This is an historic time for our industry. The challenges and opportunities before our members are unprecedented. Now is the right time to bring these associations together," said RILA Chairman Robert A. Niblock, chairman and CEO of Lowe's Cos. Inc., and NRF Chairman Myron E. "Mike" Ullman III, chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. in a joint statement.
The merger comes at a time of continued retailer consolidation and should eliminate some of the overlapping educational events and operational services offered by the two competing associations. In broad terms, NRF’s membership tended to be composed of department store chains, independent small retailers and specialty retailers. RILA (which formerly was called the International Mass Retail Association) tended to serve the big-box retail chains. There was some overlap in retail membership and types of members.

According to Niblock and Ullman, in addition to enhancing member value, the new (and as yet unnamed) association will accrue substantial benefits to all members collectively, small and large, including:

-- A unified and stronger voice on policy, communications and public affairs issues in Washington, DC;
-- A host of member events and conferences open to the combined membership of NRF and RILA, including NRF’s “Big Show” and RILA’s annual Logistics Conference scheduled for January and February 2010;
-- Focused educational offerings and operational services for independent retailers;
-- A single point of integration and dialogue with state retail associations and business groups in state capitals across the United States; and,
-- A fully-integrated staff.
-- Completion of the merger requires that both NRF and RILA submit to a thorough due diligence process. The details of the merger are being developed by representatives from RILA and NRF. Both associations’ boards of directors must recommend the merger, and both memberships must approve it.

Both RILA and NRF expect the process to be completed by this summer.

In a separate announcement, NRF revealed the retirement of Tracy Mullin, who has worked for the association for more than 30 years, later this year. She has served as president and CEO of NRF since 1993.

In a letter sent to NRF members yesterday, Mullin outlined the decision to retire was difficult but comes at a good time. "I will never lose my love of retailing, and it’s bittersweet to move on," she wrote. "After assisting NRF through this transition period, I look forward to tackling some new projects and embarking on new adventures."

RILA promotes consumer choice and economic freedom through public policy and industry operational excellence. RILA members include the largest and most successful companies in the retail industry. RILA provides its members with unique educational forums, effective public policy advocacy and advancement of the retail industry.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF's mission is to advance and protect the interests of the retail industry and to help retailers achieve excellence in all areas of their business.

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