NRF Acquires the Reverse Logistics Association

The National Retail Federation has acquired the Reverse Logistics Association, a global trade association for the returns and reverse industry.

The announcement, made Thursday during the RLA Leadership Summit in Atlanta, reflects NRF’s support of sustainable practices. It also increases NRF’s standing in the industry and makes it into a stronger trade association.

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The purchase price was not disclosed.

“NRF has a long history of convening supply chain professionals to collaborate and develop resources that improve the retail industry,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in a statement Thursday. “Retailers understand the importance of sustainability practices and the environmental, economic, social and consumer benefits that accompany them. As consumer demand for sustainable offerings continues to increase, RLA’s reverse logistics expertise will help our members to ‘close the loop’ and accelerate the emergence of the circular economy.”

An NRF spokeswoman told WWD, “While RLA has become a division of NRF through this acquisition, no RLA membership changes will be made immediately. RLA members will continue to access RLA services through and other current RLA portals and programs. Moving forward, RLA programs will be marketed to NRF members, where appropriate.”

Reverse logistics is a broad term referring to managing the supply chain to move goods from customers back to retailers, distributors or manufacturers. Reverse logistics involves managing the collecting, sorting, repairing and refurbishing of products for resale or recycling.

There’s been a growing need for reverse logisitics due to the rise in shopping online and product recalls. About 30 percent of the purchases made online are returned, which is roughly three times the amount of returns of products purchased in stores.

“The NRF recognizes reverse logistics as the backbone of the circular economy and understands how it plays a vital role in broader sustainability initiatives for the retail industry,” said RLA executive director Tony Sciarrotta in his statement. “Through this partnership, RLA will continue to reach industries investing in the circular economy and enhance NRF’s long-term commitment to retail’s supply chain and sustainability efforts.”

The RLA and the NRF provide information, conferences, educational forums and networking opportunities. The retail industry employs 52 million Americans

RLA members include Target, Amazon, Best Buy, Walgreens, JKA Logistics, Kroger, ThredUp, Radius, HP, America Liquidators, Intel, DHL, eBay, BJ’s and many other businesses across a spectrum of sectors. The RLA and the NRF have many of the same members. NRF’s membership includes Costco, Target, CVS, Home Depot, Kroger, Burlington and Macy’s.

Matt Shay
Matt Shay

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