“Are you being served?” is a
phrase highly neglected of late as the retailers are slugging it out
trying to assert their influence at the Australian Retailers
Association (ARA), the peak body for the largest industry in the
country.

Obviously margins must be doing very nicely thank you
as the arena has moved into petty politics of the nastiest kind. Once
competitors used to slash prices, now they are slashing throats and for
some, slashing wrists.

The ARA Victorian division has taken on
the appearance of a satellite Owen Dixon Chambers with writs,
injunctions, complaints of sexual discrimination, constructive
dismissal, corruption, and shortly maybe an odd homicide or three.

This
all occurred when President Joe Briffa from the Body Shop, and his
erstwhile deputy Vice President Vivienne Atkinson decided they didn’t
like the big boys (CML and Woolworths), hated the other state
divisions, detested the controlling national council, decided to throw
the rules out the window, and duly seceded.

This of course is
not known yet to the Federal Court that administers the rules that
provide a cosy tax-free environment that the ARA operates under, and I
suspect that they will be a little miffed when the news gets out.

Watch this space as things are just hotting up.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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