Prof Steve Wood

Director of Research - Surrey Business School; Professor of Retail Marketing and Management
+44 (0)1483 683113
13 MS 03


University roles and responsibilities

  • Director of Research, Surrey Business School (November 2016 – present)
  • Member of Surrey Business School Senior Management Team (November 2016 – present)
  • Head of Department for Marketing and Retail Management, Surrey Business School (Prior to November 2016).


Research interests

My teaching


Postgraduate research supervision

My publications


Wood S, Myers H, Alexander A (2009) Guest Editorial: Special issue of papers from the EAERCD?s 15th International Conference on Research in the Distributive Trades, University of Surrey, UK, The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 19 (4) pp. 313-315
Wood SM, Reynolds J (2012) Leveraging locational insights within retail store development? Assessing the use of location planners? knowledge in retail marketing, Geoforum 43 (6) pp. 1076-1087
The retail geography literature has long recognised the importance of spatial and catchment analysis to inform decision-making relating to store development. However, less attention has been directed to store development ?in practice? and, more specifically, how location research and geographical knowledge is leveraged across the wider retail business ? in particular informing the marketing function. Through the use of a semi-structured interview and focus group methodology involving approximately 40 location planning, property & marketing analysts, we find that while some larger retailers have established close links between store development and marketing functions in the exchange of catchment, customer, competitor and loyalty card data to inform local marketing, product ranging, promotional mailings and post-opening store performance reviews, this tends to be the exception rather than the rule. We suggest there is a need for location planners to develop their intra-organisational legitimacy to engender a culture of knowledge-sharing and challenge the departmentalised, silo cultures that exist within some retailers in order to better leverage geographical insights and assist in the realisation of appropriate customer propositions and marketing strategies.
Wood SM (2001) 'Consuming Interests: The Social Provision of Foods', Progress in Human Geography 25 pp. 137-138
Teller C, Wood S, Floh A (2016) Adaptive Resilience and the Competition Between Retail and Service Agglomeration Formats: An International Perspective, Journal of Marketing Management 32 (17-18) pp. 1537-1561 Taylor & Francis
This paper investigates the competitive relationship between dominant urban agglomeration formats (traditional ?evolved? town centres and ?created? shopping malls) and the drivers of competiveness in the form of key agglomeration resources (accessibility, parking condition, tenant mix, atmosphere). Based on a consumer survey (n, 2,161) across three distinctive European capital cities, co-variance based structural equation modelling reveals remarkably limited differences between formats in terms of the investigated drivers of competitiveness. Positive relationships of patronage towards both formats in all cities and the significant difference in why respondents patronise them suggest a partly complementary existence of the two types of agglomeration. We explain this apparent complementarity through the theory of adaptive resilience that has seen evolved agglomeration formats develop to provide a differentiated offer and consumer attraction compared to enclosed malls.
Wood SM (2001) Regulatory constrained portfolio restructuring: the US department store industry in the 1990s, Environment and Planning A 33 (7) pp. 1279-1304 Pion
The US department store industry has undergone a recent round of strategic acquisition-based portfolio
restructuring. This paper analyses one such acquisition, studying how its geography is restructured in the premerger
stage to conform to the Federal Trade Commission's 'fix-it-first' policy and to improve the strategic fit of
the transaction. The article then investigates evidence, and analyses the effects, of a new era of stricter FTC
enforcement, where divestiture may no longer be sufficient in cases of horizontal market overlap.
Fundamentally, the paper considers the nature of 'real' regulation in action, as rules partially dictate investment
Wood SM (2013) Revisiting the US food retail consolidation wave: Regulation, market power and spatial outcomes, Journal of Economic Geography 13 (2) pp. 299-326 Oxford University Press
This paper revisits Neil Wrigley?s influential research that explored the corporate restructuring of the US food retail sector, which was characterised by a focus on the spatial implications of merger activity, market concentration and competition regulation. It assesses the importance of this scholarship in a contemporary context, tracking these competitive and regulatory trends from a decade ago to the present. This is of particular interest given the continued concentration of market power and related competitive shake-out; the innovative experimentation with new store formats; anti-trust rulings concerning market definition by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); and the challenges faced by European entrants to the market.
Wood SM, McCarthy D (2014) The UK food retail ?race for space? and market saturation:a contemporary review, International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 24 (2) pp. 121-144
This conceptual review paper explores food retail space saturation in the UK in the
light of an apparent recent peak of store space growth, an inferred decline of the
hypermarket format, and, in particular, the stagnation and subsequent deterioration in
performance of the UK market leader, Tesco. Despite saturation being widely
discussed by retail executives and analysts, the last significant academic work in this
area occurred in the mid-1990s. In this paper, we develop an understanding of retail
saturation that rests on a spatial conceptualization of retail development at a local
catchment level and rationalize why, and in what ways, saturation manifests itself
through sales impacts and cannibalization. In the process, we analyse the differing local
effects of new store openings, store extensions and format innovation to illustrate how
saturation is contingent on local catchment conditions, competitive interactions and the
particular geography of retail brands and formats. Although a significant slowdown in
new store construction may be a logical response at the level of the industry, this may
not necessarily be the case for individual retail firms.
Wood S (2011) Organisational rigidities and marketing theory: examining the US department store c.1910-1965, SERVICE INDUSTRIES JOURNAL 31 (5) pp. 747-770 ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
Wood SM, Reynolds J (2010) Retail location planning: the state of the art, European Retail Digest Spring pp. 54-63
Wood SM, Wrigley N, Coe NM (2016) Capital Discipline and Financial Market Relations in Retail Globalization: Insights from the Case of Tesco plc, Journal of Economic Geography 17 (1) pp. 31-57 Oxford University Press
This article provides an in-depth study of leading transnational food retailer Tesco plc to explore how its financial management and relations with the investment community?notably its reputation for capital discipline?underpinned successful expansion. Informed by close dialogue with equity analysts, we investigate how this model deteriorated since the late 2000s with declining returns, leading to high-profile international divestitures. The analysis assesses the drivers of these difficulties, and conceptualizes them. It examines how the retailer, pressured by the investment community, reviewed its international strategy and attempted to ?reset? its relations with capital markets to re-emphasize shareholder value and returns. The research teases out the manner in which legitimacy with capital markets underpins the extent, pace and form of global retail expansion, leading to significant implications for workers, consumers and wider stakeholders across spatially dispersed host markets.
Wood SM, Reynolds J (2012) Managing communities and managing knowledge: strategic decision making and store network investment within retail multinationals, Journal of Economic Geography 12 (2) pp. 539-565 Oxford University Press
The manner in which knowledge is spatially generated, reproduced and diffused is of
interest to students of economic geography and business management alike. This
paper seeks to contribute to these debates by drawing on the results of a year-long
study with analysts working in location-planning departments of multinational
retailers to determine: a) how different types of knowledge are mediated within
organisational contexts to inform store development; and b) the extent to which
analysis can be successfully formalised into ?best practice?. We find that while
quantitative models of sales forecasting have become established, analysis on a dayto-
day basis sees judgements made by analyst ?communities? without perfect data, as
experience and intuitive insights contribute to corporate decision-making.
Furthermore, a number of communities-of-practice across the retail firm, consisting of
actors with different backgrounds and agendas, contribute to outcomes.
Understanding the power relations embedded within (and across) these communities
is essential to conceptualise the store expansion process.
Wood SM (2002) Organisational restructuring, knowledge and spatial scale: the case of the US department store industry, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geographie 93 (1) pp. 8-33 Wiley
Recent economic geography literature has underlined the role of tacit/local knowledge in embedding firms within
their locales, characterised by the work on "learning regions", "territorial embeddedness", "institutional thickness"
and "new industrial spaces". This paper contributes to this theoretical debate, using evidence from organisational
restructuring of the U.S. department store industry to argue that, in contrast, retailers are using codified/universal
knowledge, supported by tacit/local knowledge to successfully operate their retail operations across a range of
spatial scales. As such, no one form of knowledge is exclusively relied upon but rather a blend of knowledges
reduces costs and increases responsiveness across space.
Wrigley N, Lambiri D, Astbury G, Dolega L, Hart C, Reeves C, Thurstain-Goodwin M, Wood SM (2015) British High Streets: from Crisis to Recovery? A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence, University of Southampton
Perry P, Fernie J, Wood SM (2014) The international fashion supply chain and corporate social responsibility, 4 pp. 77-100 Kogan Page
Wrigley N, Shaw H, Guy C, Wood SM (2007) Relocalising Food Shopping. Consumer Responses to Supply Chain Transformation in the UK Convenience Store Sector, University of Southampton
Perry P, Wood SM, Fernie J (2015) Corporate Social Responsibility in Garment Sourcing Networks: Factory Management Perspectives on Ethical Trade in Sri Lanka, Journal of Business Ethics 130 (3) pp. 737-752 Springer
With complex buyer-driven global production networks and a labour-intensive manufacturing process, the fashion industry has become a focal point for debates on the social responsibility of business. Utilising an interview methodology with influential actors from seven export garment manufacturers in Sri Lanka, we explore the situated knowledge at one nodal point of the production network. We conceptualise factory management perspectives on the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in terms of the strategic balancing of ethical considerations against the commercial pressures of cost and lead time. Factory managers framed CSR in terms of compliance, rather than going above and beyond regulatory requirements; seeing it as a strategic competitive imperative and less a developmental mechanism. Sri Lankan manufacturers maintain that they have benefitted from a unique combination of factors, including strict national labour laws, an educated workforce, the characteristics of the garments produced, industrial upgrading, and long-term non-adversarial buyer-supplier relationships, which they argue has supported the establishment and maintenance of CSR practices. The paper thus provides managerial implications that relate CSR activities to CSR outcomes which include both reputational and production benefits. Such insights will be of strategic relevance for lead retail buyers as well as apparel producers keen to invest in CSR to partly mitigate against increasing price-based competition.
Wood SM, Coe NM, Wrigley N (2014) Multi-Scalar Localization and Capability Transference: Exploring Embeddedness in the Asian Retail Expansion of Tesco, Regional Studies 50 (3) pp. 475-495 Taylor & Francis
This paper revisits the ?firm in the region? and the ?region in the firm? dichotomy through the case of Tesco?s retail expansion in Asia. It focuses on the tension between the transference of proven key capabilities to the host economies Tesco has entered, and strategic localization, primarily for customer-facing, corporate culture, regulatory and institutional reasons. We demonstrate how the retailer has pursued a multi-scalar adaptive approach that goes beyond any standardized/localized dichotomy to respond to differences between and within national markets. In the process, we provide evidence of genuine two-way knowledge flow between the home market and subsidiaries, between subsidiaries themselves, and of subsidiaries granted autonomy and the ability to flex their strategies.
Wood S, Tasker A (2008) The importance of context in store forecasting: the site visit in retail location decision-making, Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing 16 (2) pp. 139-155 Palgrave Macmillan
The aim of this paper is to investigate how practical store location decision-making balances
formal modelling with the less well-studied informal qualitative inputs. By using case studies
from one major UK food retailer, we find that informal knowledge has to be considered
seriously alongside quantitative models despite the inclusion of such knowledge often proving
challenging. In particular, the site visit has a key role in contextualising factors that are
difficult to represent in formal ?modelled? data, and in calibrating the inputs to models that
are becoming increasingly advanced. We conclude that conceptualising the role of
knowledge management in retail store decision-making has been under-theorised but can
offer a key to advancing our understanding of this process still further.
Christmann H, Alexander A, Wood SM (2015) Exploring Brand Identity and Entrepreneurship as Drivers of Small Specialist Retailer Internationalisation: A German Case Study, International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 26 (2) pp. 137-153 Taylor & Francis
While the comparatively sparse literature on small specialist retailing typically supports a proactive interpretation of the drivers of retail internationalisation, a more differentiated picture exists with regard to understanding the role of the brand construct in this process. The wider marketing literature recognises that brand identity, as well as brand image, can inform the process of internationalisation, yet research focusing on small specialist retail internationalisation remains under-developed in this regard. Neither the notion of a multi-faceted brand concept, nor its function as a strategic device in the internationalisation process has been analysed with sufficient depth. Furthermore, a better understanding of how and to what extent brand identity is interdependent upon the characteristics and activities of the entrepreneur is yet to emerge. This paper explores the construct of brand identity and its role within small specialist retail internationalisation, and the related influence of the entrepreneur on the internationalisation process. A case study approach is adopted, examining one German small specialist retailer. Data collection involved semi-structured interviews with owner managers and other senior management, an assessment of company documentation as well as participant observation, providing in-depth insights into distinctive internationalisation patterns. The study finds that a simple ?either-or? approach, in terms of characterising the retailer?s motivation to internationalisation as being either reactive or proactive is inadequate in understanding this particular case. Whilst initial motivation was characterised as being reactive, the motivations underpinning further planned internationalisation are determined to be more proactive. More particularly, analysis reveals how brand identity is considered to play an important role in the internationalisation of the case study retailer, and highlights the numerous ways in which the characteristics and activities of the entrepreneurial owner-managers impact on the firm?s internationalisation. This research contributes to retail and management research concerning SME internationalisation as well as to the retail-branding literature.
Wood SM (2011) Book review. The Economic Geography of the UK
Neil M. Coe and Andrew Jones (eds.),
Journal of Economic Geography 12 (1) pp. 321-323 Oxford University Press
Wood S, Lowe MS, Wrigley N (2006) Life after PPG6: recent UK food retailer responses to planning regulation tightening, International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 16 (1) pp. 23-41 Taylor & Francis
Despite ever tightening retail planning regulation in the UK, the leading food retailers have continued
to add floorspace in a remarkably consistent manner, progressively increasing their domination of the
market. This paper examines the innovative responses of those firms to planning legislation ?
responses which have included: working within the constraints of that regulation; exposing and
exploiting flaws in the legislation, and circumventing its impacts by expansion into more fragmented
markets. Such responses, have in turn led to the further adaptation of planning regulation in order to
close a series of loopholes that the leading food retailers have been quick to exploit to aid their
expansion plans. The paper concludes by examining more broadly what these developments imply for
organizational adaptation and corporate restructuring.
Wood SM, Reynolds J (2013) Knowledge management, organisational learning and memory in UK retail network planning, Service Industries Journal 33 (2) pp. 150-170 Taylor & Francis
The forecasting of sales from potential store development opportunities is typically supported by
quantitative modelling techniques which vary in their sophistication and practical application between
retail firms. While previous research suggests analysts reach outcomes by blending modelled
knowledge with intuition and experience, how this occurs in practice is only partially understood. By
adopting a qualitative methodology involving interviews with experts, this paper makes an incremental
contribution to the literature by detailing how tacit knowledge is synthesised with modelled, codified
knowledge to affect the decision-making of senior management in UK-based retail firms. Analysis can
also extend to post-opening reviews that offer the opportunity to improve local marketing and product
ranging, and from which key lessons can be drawn for subsequent forecasting. Efforts are made by
many large retailers to retain expertise and develop institutional ?memory? by codifying tacit
knowledge, though these processes often rely upon the expertise embedded within broader intra- and
extra- firm social networks. Success therefore appears to comprise structured but flexible forecasting
routines alongside a focus on learning, continuity and communication within analyst teams.
Wood S (2009) The globalization of retailing, vol 1-2, Business History 51 (6) pp. 978-980 ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
Wood SM, Browne S (2006) Convenience store sales forecasting - art before science?, European Retail Digest 15 pp. 15-18 Oxford Institute of Retail Management
The science of store location decision making and sales forecasting has received a huge degree of attention throughout retail management and retail geography research. This literature has focused on the conceptualisation of techniques for determining the optimal location and sales, primarily of the food supermarket.
Wood SM, Reynolds J (2011) The intra-firm context of retail expansion planning, Environment and Planning A 43 (10) pp. 2468-2491 Pion
The benefits that rigorous analysis can have for retail store portfolio management in
guiding and informing investment decisions (store expansion; closure; extension; refascia
and acquisition) is well established within the economic geography research
literature. However, studies of retailers addressing location planning in practice have
identified wide variation in the sophistication of techniques and resources employed as
well as in terms of the credibility that such research and analysis receives from senior
management within the firm. By drawing on a qualitative research project involving
some 40 location planning analysts, consultants and managers at UK-based retailers, we
differentiate between three approaches to store portfolio decision-making that differ in
terms of resource allocation, sophistication and legitimacy. We seek to explain those
differences that are embedded within the context of intra-firm relations and social
communities by drawing on theories from strategic management concerning core
rigidities, lock-in and legitimisation, and review the challenges that location planners
face in gaining legitimacy within the organisation, along with strategies appropriate for
increasing their acceptance and influence across the firm.
Wood S, Lowe M, Wrigley N (2010) Conceptualising innovative customer-facing responses to planning regulation: the UK food retailers, SERVICE INDUSTRIES JOURNAL 30 (12) PII 927249143 pp. 1967-1990 ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
Wood SM, Adams R, Lowe M, Neely A (2008) ESRC Business Engagement Project: A Scoping Study of Contemporary and Future Challenges in the UK Retail Sector, Advanced Institute of Management (AIM)
Wood SM (2002) The limits to portfolio restructuring: lessons from regional consolidation in the US department store industry, Regional Studies 36 (5) pp. 515-529
Okeahalam CC, Wood S (2009) Financing internationalisation: a case study of an African retail transnational corporation, JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY 9 (4) pp. 511-537 OXFORD UNIV PRESS
Wood SM, Wrigley N, Currah A (2003) Investment bank analysts and knowledge in economic geography, Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research 35 pp. 381-387
Wood SM, Reynolds J (2014) Establishing territorial embeddedness within retail TNC expansion: the contribution of store development departments, Regional Studies 48 (8) pp. 1371-1390
Establishing territorial embeddedness within host regions in international retail expansion is well-known to be important, although the processes underpinning its realisation are less explicit. This research analyses some ?emerging practices? of international expansion planning by drawing on interviews across a sample of store development departments. The role of analysts within host regions in evaluating economic, institutional, cultural and social contexts and appraising the viability of market-entry methods and store formats is explored. The competitive and regulatory dynamism of regions means that behaviour which encourages greater embeddedness following market entry can be particularly helpful in strengthening the marketing and development strategies of international subsidiaries.
Wrigley N, Wood S (2018) An Economic Geography of Globalizing Retail: Emergence, Characteristics, Contribution, Routledge
By the end of the first decade of the 21st Century ? more than fifteen years after Gereffi?s (1994) identification of retailer buyer-driven global supply chains, and the subsequent engagement of economic geographers with the transformational impacts of multinational retailers within emerging economies (Coe and Wrigley, 2007) ? Hamilton et al. (2011, p 3) summarised the increasing consensus that large retailers had become ?the key organisers of the global economy?. But what have been the contributions of international business studies (IB) and economic geography to this consensus? In this chapter, we provide an assessment of these contributions in order to understand how economic geography has been able to make a distinct and strategically important impact despite its modest scale compared to the critical mass of international business studies.
Wood S, Alexander A (2016) Regulation in Practice: Power, Resources and Context at the Local Scale in UK Food Retailing, Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research 48 (9) pp. 1848-1863 Sage
This article uses a relational lens to explore the conflict between the regulatory state and a leading food retailer seeking store expansion within one catchment in south-east England over an eight year period. The research highlights the relational power geometries which play out in context between regulators and a regulated corporate firm to emphasise the role of power, resources, and scale. The research teases out how the power of the state to uphold an interpretation of market rules is compromised by a lack of responsiveness compared to both the proactive and reactive tactics of the well-resourced corporate retailer. It recognises how multiple regulatory agents of the state with divergent goals, sometimes situated across different spatial scales of governance, can produce markedly different judgements resulting in outcomes that are not in the public interest. Such situations require swift and coherent regulatory responses and can reveal the need for changes to the organisation of the regulatory infrastructure itself.
Coe N, Lee Y, Wood S (2017) Conceptualising contemporary retail divestment: Tesco?s departure from South Korea, Environment and Planning A 49 (12) pp. 2739-2761 SAGE Publications
In this article, we critically analyse UK retailer, Tesco?s September 2015 decision to sell its highly profitable South Korean subsidiary Homeplus to private investors. For over a decade since market entry in 1999, Homeplus had grown steadily to achieve a market-leading position through a process of strategic localization in which Tesco?s global business practices were selectively adapted to meet the specific needs of the South Korean market. Against this backdrop, we explain the exit decision through theorising the dynamic intersection of home and host market factors that developed contemporaneously from 2010 onwards. On the one hand, worsening market conditions and financial pressures in a post-crisis UK domestic market drove Tesco to refocus on its home operations and, ultimately, identify saleable assets to offset mounting debts. On the other hand, steadily growing resistance within the South Korean market from competitors, regulators, labour and consumers caused sales growth to stall and then start to decline. Our analysis contributes to the economic geography literature on retail divestment by conceptualising the relational process of divestment decision-making that encompasses the intersection of home and host market pressures as well as conditions across the wider portfolio of subsidiaries. The research is particularly distinctive in its profiling of this coevolution of drivers, and in distilling the different ?domains? of host market contestation. The analysis also has wider significance in the context of the broader literatures on economic globalization that have tended to focus heavily on processes of expansion and market entry and far less on the instances of failure and exit that are an integral and inevitable part of these wider dynamics.
Nguyen H, Wood SM, Wrigley N (2013) The emerging food retail structure of Vietnam: phases of expansion in a post-socialist environment, International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management 41 (8) pp. 596-626 Emerald

To trace the modernisation of the retail structure of Vietnam from a closed market to one that is increasingly open to retail TNC entry and associated Western retail formats.


We undertake this study of retail change through the analysis of a wide range of governmental and industry secondary data ? much of which has not entered western academic debate given the challenges of access and translation. In doing so, we relate this period of adaptation to well-known studies concerning the diffusion of western forms of retailing discussed across the social sciences.


As a country encountering the 3rd wave of supermarket proliferation within emerging markets, we find that Vietnam?s experience broadly fits the models of retail Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) entry and retail ?modernisation? suggested by Natawidjaja et al. and Dries et al. The retail change process was affected by a slow, progressive creep of market liberalisation where, as late as 2009, a foreign partner could hold only up to 49% of capital in a joint venture. While our analysis of the evidence suggests some retailers flouted these laws or employed creative approaches to mitigating their effects, such regulations clearly underpinned a less intense initial influx of retail FDI than had been experienced elsewhere in Asia and maintained a high domestic ownership level in the retail market. Retail modernisation has intensified in recent years with greater international entry, expansion and retail format proliferation diffusing from cities to more rural locations though the top five grocery operators still account for less than 4% of the grocery market.


Studies within retail management of retail internationalisation have tended to focus on fully liberalised countries that have attracted high rates of retail capital. In contrast, we are focusing on understanding the emergence of one of the countries somewhat later to these trends.

Wood SM, Wrigley N (2007) Market power and regulation: The last great US department store consolidation?, International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management 35 (1) pp. 20-37 Emerald

To examine the impact of the merger of the two largest US department store companies on the competitive state of the sector and specifically the anti-trust implications of the consolidation.


Based on semi-structured interviews with leading US department store executives as well as an ongoing close dialogue with US retail analysts.


The consolidation raises considerable anti-trust issues with the creation of a $30 bill sales company. Consistent with previous recent rulings, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has adopted a broad view of the department store market from the standpoint that the consolidation is essentially defensive ? in short, the sector is failing because it is not a separate and distinct market. However, the divestiture of 75 stores will give competitors footholds in new markets thereby changing the geography of competition in many catchments. This is likely to be the largest consolidation that the competition authorities will effectively allow, representing the last opportunity for the sector to become a more robust competitor against alternative formats that have intervened in its key product lines.


Recent restructuring of the US department store industry has generated a relatively limited academic literature, despite considerable M&A activity, subsequent organisational reorganisation, and sales of $88 bill per year. Transformation of the competitive landscape of the industry raises important issues of market regulation and corporate strategy.

Wood S, Wrigley N, Coe N (2016) Capital Discipline and Financial Market Relations in Retail Globalization: Insights from the Case of Tesco plc, Journal of Economic Geography 17 (1) pp. 31-57 Oxford Journals
This paper provides an in-depth study of leading transnational food retailer Tesco plc to explore how its financial management and relations with the investment community ? notably its reputation for capital discipline ? underpinned successful expansion. Informed by close dialogue with equity analysts, we investigate how this model deteriorated since the late 2000s with declining returns, leading to high-profile international divestitures. The analysis assesses the drivers of these difficulties, and conceptualises them. It examines how the retailer, pressured by the investment community, reviewed its international strategy and attempted to ?reset? its relations with capital markets to re-emphasise shareholder value and returns. The research teases out the manner in which legitimacy with capital markets underpins the extent, pace and form of global retail expansion, leading to significant implications for workers, consumers and wider stakeholders across spatially dispersed host markets.