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Retailers and International Markets: Motives for Expansion

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK International retailing is not a new phenomenon. The Woolworths operation, for example, was introduced into the United Kingdom from the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century. Neither is international retailing limited to a few countries; many of Europes leading retailers have multinational interests. The French group Carrefour has operations in other European countries and South America. Vendex, based in the Netherlands, has interests around the world, as does the UKs Marks & Spencer with its European, Canadian, US and Far East operations. Nevertheless, it would not be an exaggeration to say that retailers have often shown a reluctance to establish themselves on foreign soil. The US has been a hot-house of retail innovation, but US retailers have not been particularly inclined to transport innovations themselves: instead, local retailers have adopted them and integrated them into their national retail system. Retailing has retained its national characteristics. One reason for retailers having been contained within national boundaries is the inherent traditionalism of national retail systems, so that innovation has had to be sensitised to the peculiarities of different cultures. Another

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