Identifying the characteristics of small specialist international retailers

Karise Hutchinson (Department of Business, Retail and Financial Services, Ulster Business School, Coleraine, UK)
Barry Quinn (Department of Business, Retail and Financial Services, Ulster Business School, Coleraine, UK)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Publication date: 2 March 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is 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

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.

Keywords

Citation

Hutchinson, K. and Quinn, B. (2012), "Identifying the characteristics of small specialist international retailers", European Business Review, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 106-119. https://doi.org/10.1108/09555341211203982

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Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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