NRF, RILA Nix Merger Discussions

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) have scrapped plans to merge after reviewing the operations and goals of both organizations.

NRF and RILA had planned to present their merger proposal to members this summer. However, board members have decided not to move forward following a deliberative process.

The merger was highly anticipated by security installation companies that play in the retail space, Dave Merrick, vice president, marketing at Pittsburgh-based Vector Security Inc., tells SSI.

“For us that serve retail, this is a really big deal,” he says.

Rosslyn, Va.-based RILA’s 200 member companies — from Abercrombie & Fitch to Walmart — represent more than $1.5 trillion in sales. The Washington D.C.-based NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association with about 2,500 members, including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores.

The two groups announced in April an agreement in principle to merge in order to give members a singular and stronger voice on policy, communications and public affairs issues in D.C., and to better focus on educational and operational services for independent retailers.

Each group separately pursues “very good, aggressive” loss prevention efforts, Merrick says, by actively helping member companies combat organized theft, shoplifting, employee theft, burglaries and other crimes.

Merrick says the two groups have become more at odds with each other over time as the merchandise offerings of their respective memberships have become homogenized.

“Because all of these stores have cross-blended their offerings, it really became important to have one group speak for the interests at large for the retail industry,” he says. “An organization with one set of rules and with one larger pot of money can do a lot more. Right now our dues are split among two organizations that are doing the same thing, but in different ways.”

The two groups announced their inability to reach a merger agreement in a joint statement.

“NRF and RILA will devote all resources to continuing the work they are each doing to address the serious issues that America’s consumers and retailers are facing in today’s economic environment,” the groups said in the statement.

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