Retail Industry Leaders Association

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The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is American trade association headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. RILA promotes consumer choice and economic freedom through public policy and industry operational excellence. Executives participate in RILA for its educational forums, its public policy advocacy, and its advancement of the industry.[1]

Focus and membership[edit]

RILA's board of directors has focused its efforts on seven definitive areas:

  • Asset Protection
  • Supply Chain
  • Human Resources
  • Finance
  • Public Policy
  • Legal & Regulatory Issues
  • Enterprise Issues (sustainability, privacy and data security, among others)

Members include retailers, product manufacturers and service suppliers. Together, RILA's members provide millions of jobs and operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad. RILA represents:

  • More than 200 retailers, product suppliers and manufacturers in the United States
  • 9 of the Top 10 U.S Retailers[2]
  • 6 of the Top 10 Global Retail Leaders[3]
  • 6 of the Top 10 Importers[4]


RILA was started in 1969 as a research organization to help regional discounters network and learn from one another. Roughly 20 companies were founding members, all were regional discounters. Companies such as Kmart, Jamesway, Caldor, Bradlees, Hills, Target, Shopko, Wal-Mart, Zayre, Korvettes and Ames were among the founding members. The organization was originally named the Mass Retailing Institute. In 1986, it acquired the Association of General Merchandise Chains (AGMC) and in 1988 became the International Mass Retail Association (IMRA). In early 2004, the organization's board of directors voted to change its name to the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).[5]

In April 2007, The Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network, set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, RILA, and the NRF, began operation. Law enforcement and loss prevention specialists can use the database to track and identify retail theft nationwide through a secure Web portal.[6]


The President of RILA, since December 2002, is Sandy Kennedy.[7] Richard Dreiling, chairman and chief executive officer of retailer Dollar General, currently serves as RILA Chairman. He was first elected to that position in January 2014.[8]

Retail executives serving as the 2014 Board of Directors are as follows:

  • Richard Dreiling, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Dollar General Corporation (Chairman)*
  • William Rhodes, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, AutoZone, Inc. (2nd Vice Chairman)*
  • Eric Wiseman, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, VF Corporation (Treasurer)*
  • Robert Niblock, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (Secretary)*
  • Hubert Joly, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Best Buy Co., Inc.*
  • James Myers, Chief Executive Officer, Petco Holdings, Inc.*
  • Brian Cornell, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Target Corporation
  • Joseph DePinto, President & Chief Executive Officer, 7-Eleven, Inc.
  • Alexander Gourlay, President, Walgreens, Walgreens Boots Alliance
  • Alan Hoskins, President & Chief Executive Officer, Energizer Household Products, Energizer Holdings, Inc.
  • Karen Lowe, General Manager, Global Retail Industry, IBM Corporation
  • Thomas Millner, President & Chief Executive Officer, Cabela’s Inc.
  • Paul Mulligan, President, Coca-Cola Refreshments, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Michael Polk, President & Chief Executive Officer, Newell Rubbermaid
  • Madison Riley, Managing Partner, Asia Pacific, Kurt Salmon
  • Walter Robb, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Whole Foods Market, Inc.
  • Gregory Sandfort, President & Chief Executive Officer, Tractor Supply Company
  • Todd Tillemans, President, Customer Development, Unilever North America
  • Myron Ullman, Chief Executive Officer, J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
  • Sandy Kennedy, President, Retail Industry Leaders Association*

Public policy[edit]

The Retail Industry Leaders Association is a leading public policy advocate for the retail industry.[9] In 2009 RILA played a key role in the debate over health care reform. RILA successfully lobbied to protect existing health care options for part-time and seasonal employees in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[10]

In 2010, RILA also led the effort to pass reforms introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) aimed at curbing the fees banks charge merchants who accept debit cards. RILA successfully defended these reforms from an effort in 2011 to unravel them.[11]

RILA is currently at the center of the fight to level the playing field between e-tailers and brick and mortar retailers as it relates to collecting and remitting sales taxes.[12][13] The effort, which has led to the passage of laws in a number of states, including Texas,[14] California,[15] Arkansas[16] and Illinois,[17] requires e-tailers to collect and remit sales taxes owed, just as traditional Main Street retailers have long been required to do.[18]

2009 proposed merger with NRF[edit]

In April 2009, RILA and NRF announced that they would merge.[19] NRF, based in Washington, DC, had about 100 employees; RILA had a staff of about 30.[20] The process was expected to be completed by summer 2009, after both NRF and RILA went through a due diligence process. The boards of directors of both associations needed to recommend the merger, and members of both groups needed to approve it.[21] The combined association was to be run during the transition by RILA President Sandy Kennedy. Kennedy said in May that she envisioned a smaller staff, of about 75, after the merger was fully completed.[22]

In late June, the NRF and RILA announced that the merger had been called off.[23] The decision was by the boards; members had not yet been asked to vote on the matter. "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 a joint statement.[24]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Reported in the SAP Top 100 Retailers list in STORES magazine
  3. ^ Deloitte 2007 Global Powers Retailing
  4. ^ Journal of Commerce Top 100 Importers and Exporters Special Report
  5. ^ "IMRA morphs into RILA". Home Textiles Today. February 2, 2004. 
  6. ^ Chris Casacchia (April 13, 2007). "Retailers mobilize to join national theft database". Phoenix Business Journal. 
  7. ^ "Sandy Kennedy: president Retail Industry Leaders Association". MMR. October 18, 2004. 
  8. ^ "AutoZones William Rhodes Elected Chairman of RILA Board of Directors". RILA press release. January 11, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Retail leaders group spent $850,000 lobbying in 4Q". The Seattle Times. March 11, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Industries See Reform as Victory". Roll Call. March 23, 2010. 
  11. ^ Mattingly, Phil; Schmidt, Robert (June 28, 2011). "How Wal-Mart Swiped JPMorgan in $16 Billion Debit-Card Lobbying Battle". Bloomberg. 
  12. ^ "TN considers tax break for Internet Goliath". June 28, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Durbin Announces Legislation to Level the Playing Field for Illinois Retailers". April 27, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Day 25: Texas to Require Online Retailers to Collect Sales Taxes". The Texas Tribune. August 25, 2011. 
  15. ^ Lifsher, Marc (June 30, 2011). "California tells online retailers to start collecting sales taxes from customers". The Los Angeles Times. 
  16. ^ "Arkansas Senate approves online sales tax bill". Bloomberg Businessweek. March 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Illinois jumps aboard the online sales tax bandwagon". March 10, 2011. 
  18. ^ "The Internet Tax Mirage". The Wall Street Journal. April 8, 2011. 
  19. ^ Plumb, Tierney (April 22, 2009). "National retail groups to merge". Pacific Business News. 
  20. ^ Ylan Q. Mui (April 22, 2009). "Retail Groups Plan Merger To Boost Lobbying Efforts". Washington Post. 
  21. ^ "NRF, Retail Industry Leaders Association to Merge". Home Furnishings Business. Apr 24, 2009. 
  22. ^ Mark Albright (May 5, 2009). "Tampa's new Ikea to feature 2010 style". St. Petersburg Times. 
  23. ^ "Trade groups NRF and RILA call off planned merger". June 25, 2009. 
  24. ^ Ylan Q. Mui (June 25, 2009). "National Retail Trade Groups Decide to Nix Planned Merger". Washington Post. 

External links[edit]