Maybe the downturn isn’t a slow down

Getting back to work and catching up on emails, I was struck by the ongoing pace of internationalisation in the retail sector, despite the much-discussed global economic downturn. Many of the big players have been busy expanding their empires (while a few others have been struggling).

I am on the mailing list of a mob called Planet Retail, and they send out a daily newsfeed. Over the past month alone, here are the various international expansion moves they have mentioned (both new FDI and also significant within-host country investments):

  • Office Depot (US) and partner Gigante (Mexico) into Colombia
  • Wal-Mart (US) building stronger ties to Russia with an eye to open stores some time
  • Wal-Mart (US) definitely into Chile
  • Quiznos (US) into Venezuela
  • RadioShack (US) buying out Mexican partner
  • KFC and Pizza Hut (US) into Moldova
  • Costco (US) contemplating France, Spain and India
  • Costco (US) definitely into Australia

  • Hamleys (UK) into Russia
  • Alliance Boots (UK) expanding operations in Norway
  • Aldi (German) into New York City
  • Auchan (France) expanding operations in Romania
  • Metro Cash and Carry (Germany) expanding Indian operations into Punjab
  • Schwarz Lidl (Germany) into Bulgaria
  • Tesco (UK) expanding Chinese operations into Shandong
  • Rewe (Germany) expanding Russian operations
  • Woolworths (Australia) potentially into India
  • Lotte (Korea) into Vietnam
  • Best Denki (Japan) into Kuwait
  • Yamada Denki (Japan) into China
  • Quanjude (China) into Taiwan

I have listed them by the home continents of the expanding firms. As you can see there is a pretty even mix of countries in terms of home and host here. Most interestingly from the perspective of a researcher who looks at the geographic reach of multinationals, a good proportion of these moves have been outside of these firms’ home regions (as typically defined). I have highlighted these moves in green. Given retailing is one of the less-internationalised sectors in the global economy, it is fascinating that such expansion continues to occur.

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