Journal Articles 2016

This page contains details of some of the recent journal article publications by members of the Institute for Retail Studies. Pre-print versions of these articles are available online from the University of Stirling’s Depository (STORRE) in most cases, or contact the author or Leigh Sparks directly.

Stead M, MacKintosh AM, Findlay A, Sparks L, Anderson AS, Barton K and D Eadie – Impact of a targeted direct marketing price promotion intervention (Buywell) on food purchasing behaviour by low income consumers: a randomised controlled trial.  Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. DOI 10.1111/jhn.12441

Price promotions are a promising intervention for encouraging healthier food purchasing. We aimed to assess the impact of a targeted direct marketing price promotion combined with healthy eating advice and recipe suggestions on the purchase of selected healthier foods by low income consumers. We conducted a randomised controlled trial (n = 53 367) of a direct marketing price promotion (Buywell) combined with healthy eating advice and recipe suggestions for low income consumers identified as ‘less healthy’ shoppers. Impact was assessed using electronic point of sale data for UK low income shoppers before, during and after the promotion. The proportion of customers buying promoted products in the
intervention month increased by between 1.4% and 2.8% for four of the five products. There was significantly higher uptake in the promotion month (P < 0.001) for the intervention group than would have been expected on the basis of average uptake in the other months. When product switching was examined for semi-skimmed/skimmed milk, a modest increase (1%) was found in the intervention month of customers switching
from full-fat to low-fat milk. This represented 8% of customers who previously bought only full-fat milk. The effects were generally not sustained after the promotion period.
We conclude that short-term direct marketing price promotions combined with healthy eating advice and recipe suggestions targeted at low income consumers are feasible and can have a modest impact on short-term food-purchasing behaviour, although further approaches are needed to help sustain these changes.

Anne Findlay and Leigh Sparks (2016) Don;t forget about our towns, Town and Country Planning, Vol. 85 Iss: 10, pp 396-399

The paper considers the development of towns policy in Scotland. it reviews the journey from the National Review of Town Centres through the Towns Centre Action Plan and the development of the Town Centre first policy and other development and demonstration activities, to consider the various tools that have been developed to support town practitioners in Scotland. This leads in to the consideration of the first World Towns Leadership Summit, held in Edinburgh and the four principles of the World Towns Framework that emerged. (See Trading Places section of this blog)

Kolyperas D, Anagnostopoulos C, Chadwick S & Sparks L Applying a Communicating Vessels Framework to CSR Value Co-creation: Empirical Evidence of Professional Team Sport Organizations (Forthcoming), Journal of Sport Management – final author copy available in Institutional Repository  at

Despite the increasing number and significance of charitable foundations in various business sectors, their role in co-creating corporate social responsibility (CSR) value remains unclear. This paper identifies CSR value co-creation in professional team sport organizations (PTSOs) and answers three key research questions: 1) Why have PTSOs developed charitable foundations as their means toward CSR value co-creation? 2) What CSR-related resources do PTSOs and their charitable foundations integrate? and (3) How do they manage, share and transfer such resources in order to co-create CSR value? Drawing theoretical insights from Service Dominant Logic (SDL) and consumer culture theory (CCT) – and using empirical data from 47 semi-structured interviews of UK-based professional football (soccer) clubs – this study develops a communicating vessels (CV) framework to illustrate the role of charitable foundations in the CSR value co-creation process. Through four tentative CSR value co-creation levels of relationship (bolt-on, cooperative, controlled, and strategic) the study suggests several internal strategies that can enhance the level of collaboration between founders and foundations. These include information-sharing through CRM systems and social media platforms; staff-sharing or flexible movement across the organizations; quality assurance agreements; flexible team cooperation; partnership protocols with social, media, cultural, and commercial stakeholders; and co-training of personnel.

Szymoszowskyj A, Winand M, Kolyperas D & Sparks L Professional football clubs retail branding strategies, Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, Paper accepted – final author copy available in Institutional Repository at

Little is known about the way football clubs leverage their brand in their merchandise retailing. This study addresses this gap by investigating retail branding strategies used by professional football clubs. It analyses the type of product merchandised, the reasons for selling certain products and the ways through which football clubs merchandise, including their partners in distribution channels. A qualitative approach was undertaken involving content analysis of 22 Scottish professional football clubs’ websites and annual reports, and semi-structured interviews with seven football clubs retail managers and four supply chain partners. Building brand equity is considered the main motive for retailing merchandise. Some football clubs use intermediaries or outsourcers to respond to sudden consumer demands and to ensure high levels of service, whereas others have an integrated supply chain which allows for greater control. This paper suggests initiating intermediaries in the distribution channels to build brand equity thus enabling clubs to become more responsive to consumer demand.

Anne Findlay and Leigh Sparks (2016) BHS – Better Have a Strategy, Town and Country Planning, Vol. 85 Iss: 7, pp 268-271

The demise of BHS has occupied a considerable amount of newsprint and airtime over the last few months, not least due to the Select Committee investigation and the public feud between Frank Field MP and Sir Philip Green. Lost in all of this has been the impact on the staff and pensioners of the company and the towns and high streets where BHS was located. This column focuses on the latter of these and the need for towns and place managers to have a coherent vision and plan for their towns and high streets but also contingency plans for such market calamities. It questions however whether we can or should leave such risks to the market and the need to ensure operators are contributing fully to places throughout their business lives. (See Trading Places section of this blog)

Steve Burt and Leigh Sparks (2016) Retail branding, Chapter 33 of Dall’Olmo Riley F, J Singh and C Blankson (eds)The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Brand Management, Routledge, London

Branding in retailing is not new, but the  modern conceptualization is far removed from the original ‘name on a product’ brandmark. Retailers as brands go beyond a simple ‘product label’ by positioning the retailer as an organizational entity in consumers’ minds or even developing a personality, ideology or mythology.The conceptualization and operationalization of the modern retailer brand develops a broad,integrated, brand architecture embraced by consumers, products, stores, and the company itself. This chapter presents the development and implications of modern retail branding,through considering four main issues. We begin with an examination of the retailer’s identity and the scope for differentiation in an increasingly crowded marketplace. This sets the scene for a review of retail product brands (private labels), followed by a discussion of the emergence of retail store branding and corporate branding. The final section examines contemporary issues in retail branding. It is downloadable via the blog post here.

Leigh Sparks (2016) Spatial-structural change in food retailing in the UK, Chapter 14 of Lindgreen A, Hingley M, Angell R, Memery J and Vanhamme J (eds) A Stakeholder Approach to Managing Food. Gower.

This chapter aims to provide an evaluation of the development of the food retailing sector in the UK. It considers the rationale, implications and trajectory of the spatial-structural changes that have occurred. It situates retail businesses within a network of supply and demand chains and emphasizes dimensions of change, power and competition. This analysis then focuses on the implications of recent turbulence in the sector, before reflecting on future possible directions of change. It is downloadable via the blog post here.

Leigh Sparks (2016) Retailing, Chapter 25, p598-626 of Baker M and S Hart (eds) The Marketing Book, 7th edition, Taylor and Francis London.

This chapter examines the key components of the practice of retailing and seeks to investigate the distinctive and changing nature of the retail sector. As befits a chapter in a book on marketing, it begins with the cultural and consumer aspects of the retail environment. It then moves to the places and locations where retailing occurs. Interrelationships linking retail businesses with other organisations are examined, before a consideration of the internal operations of retailers themselves is presented. The people who take on the running of retail businesses and individual shops, the nature of the selling and retailing processes, and the supply and sale of goods, are introduced and discussed. The chapter concludes by summarising the state of the retail industry today and considers briefly some of the challenges for the future. It is downloadable via the blog post here.

Steve Burt, Ulf Johansson, John Dawson (2016) International retailing as embedded business models, Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 16 Iss: 3, pp 715-747

As retailers internationalize they interact with diverse socio-political-economic environments and the activities, processes, behaviours and outputs underpinning their business models evolve over time and space. Retailers are not passive, and through managerial agency they interpret the environment to compete and further their own commercial aims. Consequently, mutual interaction with the host environment means that changes may also occur in the established institutional norms in a market. Most existing studies have focused on the implications of territorial embeddedness for internationalizing retailers. In this article we also consider the societal and network forms of embeddedness identified by Hess, and illustrate how retailers transfer, negotiate and adapt their business model as they embed themselves in different institutional environments. A case study of IKEA is used to illustrate the synthesis of these two frameworks.

Anne Findlay and Leigh Sparks (2016) Burger and chips for lunch – food environments, obesity and retail planning, Town and Country Planning, Vol. 85 Iss: 5, pp 160-162

Concern over the rise in obesity, especially among younger people has risen strongly in recent years. This has been captured in many ways by the idea of the food environment being problematic for healthy eating. This piece looks at some of the issues in the food environment and the role of retail planning in avoiding some of the harms. Can retail,planing help in making the environment less obesogenic, how might this work and what is the evidence that this can be effective? (See Trading Places section of this blog)

Lars Esbjerg, Steve Burt, Hannah Pearse, Viviane Glanz-Chanos (2016) Retailers and technology-driven innovation in thefood sector: caretakers of consumer interests or barriers to innovation?, British Food Journal, Vol. 118 Iss 6 pp. 1370 – 1383. Currently available online at

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role that retailers play in innovation in the food sector. This paper extends our understanding of the important role that retailers play in the diffusion of new innovative food products, services and technologies to consumers. Analysis is based on interviews with retailers and food suppliers from Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The findings show that in different ways retailers act both as caretakers of consumer interests and as barriers to innovation. Retailers are not interested in new technologies per se, but whether new technologies and the products made using them provide clearly identifiable benefits to consumers. These products must carry minimum risk for the retailer and there is a clear need for benefits to be communicated in commercial rather than technological terms to both retailers and consumers.

Juan Carlos Londono, Jonathan Elms and Keri Davies (2016) Conceptualising and measuring consumer-based brand–retailer–channel equity, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 29 (March), 70-81

This paper presents a critical review and synthesis of the extant literature which underscores the complexities of conceptualising and measuring the synergies created by brand, retailer, and channel equity. To this end, the concept of Consumer-based Brand–Retailer–Channel Equity (CBBRCE) is developed. The concept and its measurement are subsequently tested empirically using survey data and structural equation modelling with path-PLS. The results confirm that CBBRCE is created by CBBRC Awareness, Quality and Loyalty. The paper concludes with a discussion of the managerial implications of CBBRCE, and signals areas for further academic research.

Anne Findlay and Leigh Sparks (2016) Freedom of establishment – a challenge to retail planning?, Town and Country Planning, Vol. 85 Iss: 1, pp 10-12

Under a stronger EU requirement to ensure freedom of establishment, the UK small-shop lobby may have to look beyond planning for other ways of ensuring viability in the face of competition – including competition from companies in other EU member states. In their latest Trading Places column, Anne Findlay and Leigh Sparks discuss recent developments in the the European Commission’s regulation of retailing, focusing in particular on two reports recently published which set out the thinking and framework for individual member state policies. (See Trading Places section of this blog)