RILA, NRF to Merge; NRF CEO Retiring

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RILA, NRF to Merge; NRF CEO Retiring

The executive committees of both the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) have unanimously agreed in principle to a merger that will result in single trade association representing retail interests in Washington.

According to the trade groups, the new organization will provide enhanced value to both RILA and NRF’s members and help to ensure that the retail industry speaks with one voice on crucial policy, communications, and public affairs issues.

“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,” noted 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.

Niblock and Ullman, added that further advantages of the merger would be:

-- 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, slated for January and February 2010, respectively
-- 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
-- A fully integrated staff.

Completion of the merger necessitates that both organizations submit to a thorough due diligence process. The details of the merger are being developed by RILA and NRF representatives. Both associations’ boards of directors must recommend the merger, and both memberships must approve it.

The groups expect the process to be completed by this summer.

In other NRF news, the association’s president and CEO since 1993, Tracy Mullin, said yesterday she would retire in late 2009. Last year Mullin told NRF’s leadership of her plans to retire, but the news wasn’t made public until now.

In a letter sent to the NRF membership, Mullin wrote: “I will never lose my love of retailing, and it’s bittersweet to move on. After assisting NRF through this transition period, I look forward to tackling some new projects and embarking on new adventures.”

Highlights of Mullin’s tenure include:

-- Moving NRF headquarters from New York City, where it had been based since 1911, to Washington, establishing a new mission and building an entirely new staff
-- Repositioning the organization from a department store group to one that now represents all retail formats and sectors in the United States and abroad
-- Tripling the annual budget from $12 million to $35 million
-- Expanding NRF internationally, increasing non-U.S. membership and producing conferences, services and events outside U.S. borders

Before being elected CEO Mullin held a series of positions of increasing responsibility at NRF. Prior to joining NRF, she was a senior legislative advisor to the Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate.