Purpose – This paper seeks to examine the internationalisation process of small, specialist retailers with the aim of identifying the key characteristics that define this specific category of international retailer. Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative case studies of nine UK‐based small international retailers, coupled with interviews with government and consultancy organisations, form the empirical basis of the work. Findings – The findings highlight five characteristics of small specialist international retailers: possession of a strong company brand image/identity with luxury/middle market appeal; niche strategy; dual strategy of expansion; ownership characteristics defined either by the founder or parent company; and vertical integration from manufacturing to retailing. Practical implications – With the increasing internationalisation of retail operations, the specialist sector comprises a significant number of retailers operating in international markets or contemplating the move into the international marketplace. The findings of the current work highlight the key factors that characterise those small specialist firms that operate outside their domestic market. Originality/value – The paper identifies the key characteristics that define a significant category of international retailer, hitherto unexplored in the literature.
European Business Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 17, 2011
Keywords: Retailing; Small enterprises; United Kingdom; International business
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