The Just Group’s Mark McInnes lashes out at retail job losses, as industry celebrates excellence

As The Just Group’s chief executive Mark McInnes lashed out at the federal Labor government for 80,000 job losses in the retail industry, the Australian Retail Association celebrated excellence with its 2013 ARA Retail Awards.

McInnes was scathing of the Labor government’s failure to create an environment in which local retailers could compete with international retailers on an equal footing.

In an address to an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce event yesterday in Melbourne, McInnes said the government had let down both big and small retailers in its failure to reform the industrial relations system.

“In other words, there is no retail industrial relations system that caters for performance and productivity, only a system that entrenches wage increases regardless of performance, productivity and a rapidly changing industry structure,” McInnes said, as reported in The Australian Financial Review.

The ARA, led by Russell Zimmerman, has also recently been outspoken on the impact of industrial relations on retail employees, and is also celebrating 110 years of operation today.

At an event in Melbourne this morning, the ARA announced winners across 11 competition categories, with Specsavers honoured with the 2013 Visa Australian Retailer of the Year award. The eyewear company also received the BDO Australian Retail Employer of the Year award. Specsavers reports that it employs over 30,000 people in 10 countries.

This was the first year the ARA included online retailers in its awards. The Kogan Australian Online Retailer of the Year Award went to footwear label Shoes of Prey, which was launched in 2009 and allows women to design their own shoes.

Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox told SmartCompany’s sister publication StartupSmart this morning that they were excited about the recognition.

“Ultimately, we just want to give customers the best experience of our brand,” she says.

Other winners included:

  • REST Industry Super Australian Individual Retailer of the Year: Jo-Anne Oakeshott, Sunglass Hut, and Cameron Richardson, Repco Corporation
  • Eftpos Australian Independent Retailer of the Year: Native Botanical; Runner-up: Saltwater Wine & Stormriders
  • The Realise Group Australian Retail Innovator of the Year: Brava Sport
  • eBay Inc Australian Multichannel Retailer of the Year: Specialty Fashion Group
  • Kogan Australian Online Retailer of the Year: Shoes of Prey
  • FCB Australian Retail HR Practitioner of the Year: Jeanswest
  • Victorian Government Victorian Retailer of the Year: Claws ‘n’ Paws Pet Supplies
  • Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Retailer of the Year: Australian Geographic Shop

The awards were attended by Myer chief executive officer Bernie Brookes and Victorian Small Business Minister Louise Asher.

The ARA used the awards to celebrate 110 years as the peak retail industry body in Australia.

“I am tremendously proud to lead an organisation with such a long and dedicated history of protecting and promoting the retail industry’s interests, including changing the perception of retail as a viable career option,” Zimmerman said in a statement.

The retailers attending the awards will be bracing to face increased competition from international fashion brand H&M, which has appointed Sydney-based public relations firm Trish Nicol Agency ahead of its 2014 foray into the Australian market.

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