The changing nature of supply chain management in the European grocery retail sector

  • Clare Fyfe

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Research in the field of distribution and logistics has been an area largely neglected by retail academics. While a considerable body of theoretical research has been undertaken on marketing channels, few researchers have investigated physical channels of distribution. This is surprising in view of the changing relationships within marketing channels and the impact of such changes on the physical distribution function. The current research investigation addresses this issue in a European context, albeit from a largely British viewpoint, by assessing the impact of changing supply chain relations on the physical distribution strategies of retailers and their suppliers in the European grocery market.

    The background to this research is derived from an exploratory piece of research conducted by Femie (1992) on retailers' distribution strategies in Europe. This research concluded that the greater the retail concentration in countries, the higher the level of retail branding and quality of distribution service support to stores. This results in a greater likelihood that retailers will control the supply chain.

    The claims which were made in this exploratory research are tested in the first stage of the research investigation which involves the collection of data for 18 variables relevant to understanding the impact changing relations between retailers and their suppliers have had on supply chain management techniques across 10 countries of the EU and their analysis by applying a range of multivariate statistical techniques to identify homogeneous groups of countries. From this analysis, a definite north/south divide emerges between grocery retail markets on the continent of Europe.

    Thus, the second stage of the research investigation involves undertaking primary research with the main supply chain participants in order to establish further how logistical support varies in time and space throughout Europe by drawing on results generated from the previous analysis. As the body of current work on logistical support to warehouses and stores in the retail chain is derived from secondary source material, by undertaking a detailed analysis of the role of two main supply chain participants, namely grocery manufacturers and third party distribution specialists, only a partial understanding of relationships in the supply chain in a European context is gained. Nevertheless, results from this stage of the research investigation further substantiate the north/south divide evident between grocery retail markets in Europe.
    Date of AwardMar 1997
    Original languageEnglish

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