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Title: An exploration into the resource bundle available to retailers: the case of specialists independent grocery retailers
Author: McGuinness, Donna
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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The retail sector has been described as one of the largest, most dynamic and innovative sectors in the UK economy (Addie, 2007). Due to its dynamic nature, recent reports have highlighted both positive and negative changes in the retail environment. One of the most fundamental changes within the retail environment is the decline in the small independent retail sector, especially food stores (Bennison et al., 2010). The decline of the specialist independent grocery retail sector is a cause of concern to policy-makers and consumers alike given its significant role in the local economy in terms of functionality, community spirit and sentimentality (Smith and Sparks, 1997; Smith and Sparks, 2000; Broadbridge and Calderwood, 2002; Byrom et al., 2003). Moreover, the significance of this sector is underpinned by the fundamental role it plays for various groups of consumers who depend on independent retailers to provide a local service, supply fresh, high quality ingredients and products. In view of the vital role independent retailers play, many consumers hold this type of firm in high esteem because of their long- standing reputation within communities (Shenkar and Yuchtman-Yaar, 1997). After identifying a gap in the literature, this study adopts a Resource Based View to gain an understanding of the specialist independent grocery retail (SIGR) sector. The overall aim of this research is to: Identify the resource bundle utilised by specialist independent grocery retailers. A qualitative case study approach was deemed most appropriate to gam insight into this unexplored area of study (Hill et al., 2002; Saunders et al., 2009). The unit of analysis within this case study research was first the specialist independent grocery retailing sector and secondly, the owner manager of each chosen firm. An Internet search of award winning specialist independent grocery retailers highlighted approximately 50 such firms in Northern Ireland. From this sample, a total of 30 firms agreed to participate in the study, including an even mix of family and non family owned retailers. Interviews were recorded, then transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis and coding techniques aided by the use of NVivo. The main findings of this thesis include the categories of resources which make up the resource bundle utilised by the firms in this study, namely, physical capital resources, human capital resources, owner manager capital resources and additional assets including reputation, brand and customer loyalty. These assets were found to be critical to the overall success of the firm in a difficult trading environment. This categorisation of resources and capabilities unique to SIGRs denotes a new contribution to the retail literature, which to date has focused in the main upon large retail organisations. The findings are first presented from the perspective of the 'retail story' which explains the resources available to SJGRs and secondly, a virtuous cycle which explains how the SIGRs managed their resources and translated both tangible and intangible aspects of their businesses into significant value adding assets. Lastly, from analysis of the findings, this study has made an important contribution to the family firm literature by finding that the resource termed 'familiness' is not unique to family firms and is in fact available to non family SIGRs also This study addresses previous calls for the categorisation of resources for a whole firm, and highlights the importance of the RBV perspective in understanding how firms can exploit these resources to gain competitive advantage within the industry. It is argued that if these firms can achieve sustained competitive advantage from building and exploiting these assets so too can other firms in the sector. In view of the gap in the literature, this thesis also provides important evidence and theoretical understanding into a neglected area of study, namely the retailing SME and strategy literature. As there is a lack of theoretical frameworks with the retail literature, this study has demonstrated that by drawing upon other theories outside the domain, theory can be successfully applied to yield greater understanding of the retail sector.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available