The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has announced changes to the ARACouncil including the appointment of its first female President.

Nicole Sheffield, Managing Director, Data & Digital, Wesfarmers, has beenappointed as President of the ARA Council, joining Stephen Younane, CEO,Retail Prodigy Group, who was recently appointed as Vice President.

Sheffield said it’s an honour to be elected the ARA’s first female Presidentand looks forward to working with the CEO and the Council on the challengesand opportunities that lie ahead for the industry.

“This is a pivotal time for the retail industry with Covid continuing toimpact so many businesses in terms of supply chain constraints and staffshortages. We need to ensure retailers are well placed to navigate thepandemic pain and economic head winds so they can capitalise on Australia’spost-Covid recovery,” Sheffield said.

“The pandemic has highlighted just how crucial it is for retailers to have anomnichannel strategy so they can cater for customers whichever way theyinteract with their business. Technology and innovation play a leading role inour sector – from how we source goods and services, to how we interact withour customers. It’s important that businesses continue to harness the power ofdata and digital as retail continues to evolve.

“As ARA President I am committed to being a strong advocate for all retailersand look forward to working with the Council and CEO on ensuring the ARAremains a powerful and united voice for the industry.”

The new appointments bring into effect equal representation of women on theARA Council and reflect ARA’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusionand driving long lasting change in the retail industry, which employs one in10 Australian workers – most of whom are women.

Drew Meads, Franchise Manager, Forty Winks, has been appointed officially asTreasurer after serving the last few years as Acting Treasurer. Steve Plarre,CEO, Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses, continues as ARA Secretary.

Former ARA Council Advisors Krista Diez-Simson, CFO/COO at Taking Shape. andJosephine Barbaro, CFO, Apparel Group & Co, have been appointed ARA CouncilMembers, joining Sharon Beaumont, General Manager People, Communications andSafety at 7 Eleven, Jane McNally, CEO, Camilla, Erica Berchtold, CEO, TheIconic, and Sarah Hunter, Managing Director, Officeworks.

Katie McNamara, Chief Strategy and Customer Officer at Super Retail Group, andMaria McCarthy, General Manager Corporate Affairs, Bunnings have also recentlybeen appointed ARA Council Advisors.

The new appointments join existing ARA Council Members Ralph Edwards, Ownerand Managing Director, Bright Eyes Sunglasses, and Jack Gance, Owner andChairman at Chemist Warehouse.

The ARA thanks Rowan Hodge, CEO, Andersens Flooring, who steps down after fouryears as ARA President but will continue as an ARA Council Member. The ARAalso acknowledges the contributions of Charlie Davey, General Manager Retail,Leading Edge Group, and Greg Leslie, Franchise Owner, Battery World, who haveresigned from the Council.

CEO Paul Zahra said the ARA Council is now 60 per cent female and representssmall, medium, large, and major retailers with established bases across thecountry.

“The ARA has a long and proud history, but this is the first time theorganisation has had a female President, which is well overdue, so I’mdelighted to announce Nicole’s appointment along with our new femaleCouncillors and Advisors who I’m confident will make an outstandingcontribution to the ARA and our broader retail community,” he said.

“Diversity, equality and inclusion are core issues for us at the ARA and theCouncil’s equal representation of women reflects the strong commitment we havein this space and to delivering better outcomes in the retail industry morebroadly. We’ve already established our Diversity, Equality, and InclusionAdvisory Committee, which is our platform for change, bringing together acoalition of influential retail leaders to advocate this agenda.

“Around 34 per cent of ASX 200 board roles are filled by women, and whilethere’s a long way to go to ensure equal representation in that regard, theARA aims to lead by example. Pleasingly, gender equity has also been achievedat the executive level with 76 per cent of ARA employees also women.

“I would like to acknowledge Rowan Hodge who steps down after four years asARA President. Rowan has done an outstanding job helping to navigate the ARAthrough what has been a turbulent period most recently with the Covidpandemic. Rowan will continue to serve as an ARA Councillor.

“The new ARA Council represents retailers of all shapes and sizes with vastnetworks across the country. These roles reflect the commitment of theindividuals, and the retail organisations behind them, to making a communitycontribution, with the Council members serving on a pro bono basis. We aregrateful for their expertise and support in driving an ambitious vision forour sector. My congratulations again to the new appointments,” Zahra said.

Pictured: Nicole Sheffield (Centre), Andrew Meads, Josephine Barbaro, KatieMcNamara (Left – top to bottom), Krista Diez-Simson, Maria McCarthy, StephenYounane (Right – top to bottom)

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