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ARL's rich history

As a member based organisation, Associated Retailers Limited (ARL) is run to benefit the membership as a whole through the various initiatives and programs it operates. The ARL board comprises 6 very experienced store owners and an independent director.

ARL’s core competencies focus upon:

  • Charge Through account system (central transactional platform) giving Members and Suppliers one centralised platform.
  • Structured buying programs with the market leading Suppliers focused on both exclusive product ranges and aggregated buying designed to deliver increased return on investment to Members.
  • Direct import programs in both ‘ARL own product’ and ‘major supplier product’ designed to deliver greater return on investment.
  • Business and operation support for the individual Members’ business including benchmarking, HR support, staff training, buying and advertising/marketing/merchandise plans, store layouts and more.
  • Regular marketing and advertising programs including catalogues, visual merchandising material,  national TV support, digital and social media campaigns and more.
  • Retail Support focused on increasing sales and better buying opportunities.
  • Member networking with like minded business owners designed to improve Member performance and operating efficiencies through national Trade Fairs and state/regional based Member meetings.


Book StackContinued growth and development over many decades has changed ARL beyond the expectations of its far-sighted founders. It was in 1959 that a group of Victorian business people met to establish the Top Twenty Association, the name used beyond incorporation until the Group’s establishment as Mensland in 1969.

Originally established to operate a bulk buying warehouse, it developed the current successful group buying system in 1975, expanding on a national basis three years later.

However, the group grew not only geographically, but also in size as more retail brands came on board. On 13th May 1981, this was reflected when it became Associated Retailers Limited, retaining the Mensland business name and signalling further growth. The Homewares Group was formed the following year, and was joined in July 1986 by the footwear group under the Shoex brand.

Armed with this national expansion, the Board decided to embark on a marketing policy to help Members boost sales. This successful strategy paved the way for the addition of a Womenswear Division in 1987, and of Toyworld two years later. In 1995, ARL acquired fashion retailer Brown Sugar.

In 2001, ARL moved into the Sports and Leisure market when SportsPower joined the group, closely followed by Sportscene in 2002. In 2004, ARL acquired Compleat Angler. ARLnet, our member business system was launched in 2007. In 2008 ARL acquired Toy Kingdom, and then in 2010 Camping World became part of the ARL group.

It’s been an amazing time of growth, and one which demonstrates ARL’s leadership position in the marketplace. Through combined buying, administrative and marketing strategies, ARL has continued to grow, to increase its buying power for its Members, and to provide an unparalleled service to independent retailers who seek the strength and reliability of a national buying group.

If there’s a way to do it better… we’ll find it!

Years of Growth

1959 Top Twenty Association is formed in Victoria
1962 Victorian expansion continues despite credit squeeze
1969 TTA changes its name to Mensland
1975 Buying Group system adopted
1979 Menswear Buying Group goes Australia-wide
1980 First Menswear catalogue released
1981 Associated Retailers Ltd is established as company name, retaining Mensland as a trading name
1982 Homewares group formed
1984 ARL exceeds $100 million in sales
1985 New premises opened in Richmond, Victoria
1986 ARL acquires footwear group under the Shoex name
1987 Womenswear added to retail brands
1988 New building in Burnley Street, Richmond purchased
1989 ARL acquires Toyworld
1990 ARL sales exceed $200 million
1993 New warehouse acquired
1994 ARL acquires womenswear chain, Brown Sugar
2001 Toyworld New Zealand joins the group
2001 SportsPower Group acquired
2002 Sportscene Group joins ARL
2004 ARL acquires Compleat Angler
2007 ARLnet launched
2008 ARL acquires Toy Kingdom
2010 ARL acquires Camping World