International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 1 July 2003


Broadbridge, A. (2003), "Editorial", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 31 No. 7. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijrdm.2003.08931gaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited


Following on from the last issue of Retail Insights (No. 3), this issue contains another three papers from the 7th European Association for Education and Research in Commercial Distribution (EAERCD) conference held in July 2002 and hosted by the University of Gloucestershire Business School. While the last issue's theme was on merchandising issues, the overarching theme of this issue is on international cases. As with the previous issues, the decision on the choice of cases to include was made jointly between the conference chair, Colin Clarke-Hill, and myself.

The first paper by Jozefina Simova, Colin Clarke-Hill and Terry Robinson provides some interesting findings from a longitudinal study that examined the nature and extent of retail formats and merchandise assortment in various Czech Republic towns during the 1990s. From their study they conclude that structural change has been more prevalent in towns with over 20,000 inhabitants. New retail formats (including boutiques, discount stores, second hand stores and franchise stores) emerged after 1989 following the privatisation and liberalisation of the economy, while the share of mid-range clothing stores and department stores selling clothes has declined. They also found that almost half the clothing stores sold just clothes, although the share of shops selling clothes and accessories has increased significantly over the period.

The paper by Glynis Jones focuses on the expansion of Debenhams into the Middle East. This has been achieved using a franchise partner as this was regarded as a low risk, yet profitable, mode of entry. However, selecting a suitable partner is crucial and Debenhams was careful to choose a partner that already had franchise agreements with various other UK retailers. Various opportunities and threats arise from such partnerships including the identification of appropriate store sites, the selection of merchandise for sale in the stores, as well as cultural differences that need to be addressed. The Middle East was the first international development for Debenhams. It has since expanded this operation into other countries including Malaysia, Hungary and Scandinavia.

The final contribution from this conference is by Niels Jørgensen who provides a case examining the distribution of Danish potted plants. This is a product area which is little reported on in the literature, yet is clearly of special importance when it comes to considering their methods of distribution. The current distributor is owned by the Danish market gardeners and the paper considers the strategic challenges to be faced, including whether the distributing company releases itself from its group of suppliers and what the future transportation opportunities hold.

This issue also contains a news release from the DTI about the topical issue of flexible working. It reports on an online poll carried out with job seekers across the retail, sales and marketing sectors on the subject of flexible working. This was conducted in response to the Government's new family friendly employment rights that came into effect from April 2003. The new rights state that parents (including adoptive parents) of children under the age of six (and disabled children under the age of 18) will have the right to request to work flexibly and to have these requests considered seriously by their employers. Connected with the DTI's work-life balance campaign are the results of another survey of retail workers that reported that many retail employees work more than 60 hours a week, and suffer from stress at work. Summary results of this survey are also included to understand some of the balance of work and quality of life issues surrounding retail employees.

A further news release speculates about Tesco taking over Ahold and what the combined organisation would look like.

We conclude this issue with a review by Andrew Paddison of Retailing in the European Union: Structures, Competition and Performance, published by Routledge in 2002.

Adelina BroadbridgeUniversity of Stirling