An exploratory study of SME supplier development and local sourcing in the grocery retail sector

Beverly Wagner, I. Fillis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The overall aim of this research was to undertake an exploratory investigation to gain insights into attitudes and perceptions of supplier development and local sourcing programmes in the UK grocery retail sector. Since this research is exploratory in nature, a qualitative approach to data collection was undertaken using semi‐structured in‐depth interviews. Retailers do seem to be undertaking supplier development as defined in the literature but the data collected highlights some of the difficulties experienced by all suppliers in supporting grocery retailer category management and branding strategies. From this, local sourcing also implies the involvement of the micro‐enterprise producer. This has the potential for greater levels of power and trust imbalance. The main research limitation was the small sample size. However, the research was exploratory and the sample was essentially convenience based. This resulted in over‐representation by the larger SME producer. The findings can be enhanced with further qualitative research focusing on the micro‐enterprise supplier. Originality/value – The paper offers an insight into the debate on SME supplier development and local sourcing by providing empirical evidence of the current shape and scope of the various initiatives in the UK grocery sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-733
Number of pages18
JournalThe International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • supplier development
  • local sourcing
  • grocery retail
  • SMEs


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