International Retail Restructuring and Divestment: The Experience of Tesco

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Abstract:

A key purpose of this study is to explore the lessons learned from international retail divestment and market withdrawal experiences. Drawing on 33 in-depth interviews with leading investment banks and key retail executives at Tesco, the study investigates the company's international restructuring and divestment activities in Ireland and France during the mid -1980s and 1990s. It has been demonstrated that, despite the progressive merger and acquisition wave sweeping through the corporate retail landscape recently, international retail divestment is quite widespread. The main conclusion from this study is that Tesco originally did not envisage divestment or de-internationalisation as part of the original internationalisation strategy process in either the acquisition of Three Guys in Ireland or Catteau in France. There was no appreciation from Tesco during their early period of expansion of the fact that exit pressures might arise during the course of market entry. In this regard, the case study provides insights into the relationship between investment and divestment within the context of international retail restructuring. The case evidence also demonstrates the positive impact of the Three Guys and Catteau divestments which helped management to refocus and rejuvenate the company's internationalisation process.

Keywords: DIVESTMENT; INTERNATIONALISATION; LEARNING; RESTRUCTURING; RETAILING; TESCO

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/0267257042405213

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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