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Sainsbury's in Egypt

Terrence C. Sebora (University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)
Michael Rubach (University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas, USA)
Richard Cantril (Fiserv, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

Publication date: 26 November 2014


Subject area

International Strategy

Study level/applicability

Undergraduate or graduate capstone course in strategy or international management course.

Case overview

Faced with increased competition at home, Sainsbury's decided to expand its international operations by entering Egypt. Sainsbury's initially created a joint venture with an Egyptian food retailer, but quickly increased its commitment by opening over 100 stores in Egypt. Sainsbury's dream of capturing the Egyptian food market faded as quickly as it was started. Due to declining profits, Sainsbury's eliminated its exposure in Egypt by selling its interests to its Egyptian partner. Sainsbury's first developing-country venture could be regarded as an object lesson in how not to operate. The company failed to properly investigate its market and its partners, and showed insensitivity to local conditions. Moreover, entering the Egyptian consumer business sector may have been ill-advised. Egypt, with a low gross domestic product (GDP) per head of about $1,300 and a population of 65 million, while having growth potential, is a daunting market. Why a poor and frequently disorganized country was perceived as having excellent growth potential was not addressed by Sainsbury's in its headlong rush to invest. The case should be interesting for students because it highlights a situation where a firm's international expansion efforts failed after the firm had success expanding internationally previously. Numerous reasons are presented in the case for Sainsbury's failure. The case highlights the multiplicity of issues which a company faces when it “goes global.” While Sainsbury's withdrew from Egypt, the case affords students the opportunity to evaluate whether they would have made the same decision by providing a discussion of the alternatives suggested by Sainsbury's Chairman.

Expected learning outcomes

The Sainsbury's case is capable of addressing several important teaching objectives: the case is an appropriate vehicle to demonstrate what can happen to a firm as it expands globally; students will gain more knowledge concerning why companies expand into foreign markets and the impact of cross-country differences in market conditions; the case presents the multifaceted complexities involved in globalization efforts and issues faced by companies concerned with global competition and global strategy; students should apply the concepts and tools of industry and competitive analysis; students should gain a better understand how to manage globally; students should gain an understanding of the challenges of globalization and global competition; students should gain a better understanding of the evolution of strategy as industry conditions change and new opportunities arise. As with any case study, students should learn to translate good analysis into appropriate recommendations for action.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.



Sebora, T.C., Rubach, M. and Cantril, R. (2014), "Sainsbury's in Egypt", , Vol. 4 No. 8.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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