Former David Jones CEO to take the helm at ARA

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) will welcome former David Jones CEO, Paul Zahra as its new CEO, effective May 2020. He will succeed Russell Zimmerman who announced his retirement in November 2019, at the same time major retailers Bunnings, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys joined the Association.

Zahra is a leading figure of Australian retail, having worked in the industry for more than 35 years in senior executive and non-executive roles as well as a company advisor.

Starting his career as a Target shop assistant, Zahra then became the retailer’s youngest ever store manage at age 22. He went on to work at David Jones for more than 16 years, most recently as CEO and managing director, where he led the department store through a significant period of transformation which saw the business evolve from a traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer to an omni-channel retailer.

Since Zahra left David Jones in 2014, he has been an advisor to companies including David Jones’ parent company, Woolworths Holdings, beverage company, Nexba and PwC. Most recently, he has served as chairman of the FutureYou executive program for the last 18 months.

ARA president Rowan Hodge said, “We are delighted to have secured a leader of Paul’s calibre to lead the ARA as it strives to bring the industry together and create ‘One Voice’ for small, medium and large retailers.

“Paul brings a deep understanding of retail and the issues and opportunities faced by the industry and our members. His inclusive and progressive leadership style, retail and digital expertise, broad networks, experience leading transformation and strong vision for the ARA and future of retail will be invaluable as the organisation moves forward.”

Commenting on his appointment, Zahra said, “In the last 20 years, the disruption and transformation of the retail sector has been significant as a result of ongoing changes in technology and consumer behaviour. However, what excites me is the untold story of innovation, whether in store formats, in online marketplaces, or the many small businesses that started life in someone’s living room.

“This sector has the capacity to adapt and evolve, the power to connect people and communities, and the ability to make dreams a reality. I am optimistic about what lies ahead and look forward to supporting and advocating for our members as we overcome challenges, embrace transformation and evolve with the customers we serve.”

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