Capital discipline and financial market relations in retail globalization: Insights from the case of Tesco PLC

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We conducted an in-depth study with 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 investigated how this model deteriorated from the late 2000s with declining returns, leading to high-profile international divestitures.

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The analysis examined 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 depicts 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.