The evolution of grocery wholesaling and grocery wholesalers in Ireland and Britain since the 1930s

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Studies of industry evolution are relatively scarce outside of industries defined by narrow technological bases. Studies of wholesaling are rarer still. These are curious features given that it is probable that service industries behave differently to manufacturing ones and that wholesaling is such a key function of many economies. This paper looks at the evolution of grocery wholesaling and grocery wholesalers in Ireland and Britain since 1930. It focuses on the processes and drivers of the wholesale industry. Similarities and differences between the two countries are discussed. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of government action as a triggering mechanism for change and on the role of trade associations and industry leaders in developing and following through on market and non-market strategies. The pathways of industry evolution identified differ from those seen in manufacturing. They therefore raise a number of issues for the development of understanding and conceptualization in industry evolution studies.

Keywords: Britain; Grocery; Ireland; government action; industry evolution; wholesalers; wholesaling

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Business Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland 2: Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, Scotland, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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