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Title: Accounting for UK retailers' success : key metrics for success and failure
Author: Teji, Tarlok Nath
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 5096
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis provides an understanding of retailers’ performance metrics and measurement. In doing so it lays bare the over reliance on historic published accounting reports as the de facto standard for retail performance reporting. In addition, it exposes the weakness in retail accounting reports as well as retail failure prediction models that are dependent on financial ratios as key variables. This thesis also casts light on the non-financial performance metrics used by retailers. All retailers use performance metrics but do not always report them in a coherent and defined way to give a transparent picture of their actual performance. The subject of performance, and metrics in particular, can be approached from multiple disciplines, yet there is an absence of detailed guidance or discussion of retail performance metrics, for retail boards, in any literature. To comprehend a UK retailer’s performance, it is argued that there is a prerequisite to understand the full context of the UK retail landscape, and the multitude of metrics, both financial and non-financial, this brings into play when discussing performance measurement. Accordingly, the objectives of this thesis were to identify: what retail performance metrics are used by retail boards to manage their performance; what these boards claim about their performance in the public domain; and what disconnect there may be between these two areas. A pragmatic worldview in the interpretative tradition frames the research epistemology. This inductive approach is supported by a multiple case study design strategy using informed grounded theory to conduct research into six case companies (four successful and two failed) in order to discover the retail performance metrics they use and report. The findings show an abundance of metrics in use at retail boardroom level and a ‘sifting matrix’ is devised to cluster the metrics to aid comprehension and ranking into the 20 focus areas which retail boards consider important. These focus areas provide a basis for a suite of metrics, ‘the vital few’ within which six were found to be consistently and persistently used that could form an industry standard. In addition, there was evidence that retailers adapt their metrics as they change, giving substance to the notion of adaptive resilience in performance measurement. Any disconnect between metric use and disclosure was explored through a conceptual framework, ‘a journey matrix’, where retailers are on a journey to becoming trust intelligent with their disclosure of retail performance metrics. The transparent disclosure of retail performance metrics provides the explicit link to gaining trust and demonstrating good governance practice implicit within stewardship theory. The ‘journey matrix’ is also proposed as an alternative developmental viewpoint for analysing retailers’ annual reports and accounts. The development and disclosure of retail performance metrics lacks guidance on definitions, calculation bases and recommended disclosure. Without guidance, the voluntary proliferation of selective reporting is likely to render performance, as published by retailers themselves, opaque and confusing. This thesis starts the debate about board level retail performance metrics research and provides a framework to assist retail boards to evaluate what they use and what they disclose in their journey to gain the trust of stakeholders.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: retail ; business ; success ; distress ; failure ; performance ; metrics ; accounting ; reporting ; stewardship ; adaptive ; resilience ; trust ; transparency ; disclosure ; intelligent ; governance