Dr Zhi Han

Postgraduate research student

Academic and research departments

Department of Marketing, Surrey Business School.


My research project

My qualifications

MA in Cultural and Creative Industries
King’s College London, UK
BA in Chinese Language and Literature
Central China Normal University, China

Affiliations and memberships

Postgraduate Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society


Zhi Han, Steve Wood, Neil M Coe, Andrew Alexander (2022)The shifting foundations of territorial embeddedness in food retailing: recent insights from China, In: The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Researchahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)pp. 1-24 Routledge

Economic geographers exploring the globalisation of food retailing have argued that retail TNCs might secure a foothold in host markets by deepening their territorial embeddedness in regional logistics and supply networks, consumer markets and cultures, and property markets. Yet, over the past decade in China, hitherto one of the most prominent foci for food retail TNC entry, the market has rapidly morphed in ways that have profoundly challenged the ability of international food retailers to deepen or even maintain their territorial embeddedness, with divestment an increasing reality. This paper argues that the advantages retail TNCs initially enjoyed (e.g., superiority in store format design and planning; marketing and IT infrastructure; favourable host market regulations; and efficient sourcing/logistics networks) have atrophied in the face of a maturing retail market characterised by strengthening domestic retail competition, less favourable host market regulations, the rise of digital platforms and markedly shifting customer expectations. As such, a reformulation is required that identifies how three imperatives - which we term online integration, offline reconfiguration and strategic reinforcement - crosscut the existing dimensions of territorial embeddedness and set the context for the strategic responses of retail TNCs and their highly variable effectiveness. More broadly, the paper exposes the dynamic, multi-agent and temporal nature of the retail embeddedness process, with the retail TNC and their strategic responses set against a host market context of intersecting stakeholders, institutions and regulations that are themselves also in a constant state of flux.