Purpose – The internationalisation of large multinational retailers is well documented and much research attention has been given to their motives and strategies for expansion. Yet, no research in this field has specifically addressed the internationalisation of small‐ to medium‐sized companies (SMEs) operating in the retail industry. The theoretical insights from the literature revealed important gaps in extant research, which relate to the barriers, stimulants, drivers, facilitators, process, and market entry strategy of retail SME internationalisation. Design/methodology/approach – This paper aims to fill these gaps. Since the intention of this study was not to describe, but rather to build theory from an unexplored area of research, an in‐depth case approach was deemed most appropriate. Therefore, the paper presents the findings from a number of case studies of SME retail internationalisation operating from the UK. Findings – Key findings from this study not only confirm that smaller British retailers have both the potential and capability to enter international markets successfully, but provides initial insights into how they overcome the constraints of size and establish an international market strategy. The findings from this study also offer insights into the SME sector of the retail industry in the UK in terms of their experience and adoption of government exporting programmes, and details the main implications for managers of small international firms. Originality/value – Although knowledge on SME retailer internationalisation, as it stands, is at a very early stage of development, this analysis of actual company activity in the UK retail industry provides important insights into a neglected area of international retail study and should help to develop the body of knowledge on SME internationalisation in general.
International Marketing Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2006
Keywords: Small to medium‐sized enterprises; Retailers; International business; United Kingdom
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