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Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development ; 2022.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-2070240


Purpose This study aims to explore business strategies adopted by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK's grocery-retail industry to cope with supply chain (SC) disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Design/methodology/approach The study adopted two phases of research methods. In Phase 1, in-depth interviews were conducted with ten SMEs from England. Whilst abiding by national guidelines on the travel restrictions imposed by the government, in Phase 2 email-based interviews were conducted with 22 SMEs across the UK's grocery-retail industry. The thematic analysis technique was adopted to analyse the data. Findings This study reveals that SMEs need clearer avenues of communication with the government and better resources for learning and training. SMEs also need to expand their implementation of information technology to improve SC collaboration. In the meantime, they need to improve their power positions in SCs and reduce dependence on SC partners. Originality/value SMEs in the grocery-retailer industry have been increasingly under pressure to compete with bigger grocery retailers. During the pandemic they have faced great challenges and been looking for strategies to improve their performance. While a major proportion of participants in the grocery-retailer industry are fragmented SMEs, the majority of studies have focussed on larger retailers and end consumers. With the help of the social exchange theory, this research reveals new insights into business strategies to cope with SC disruptions, and offer the foundation for a new line of research on preparation for future disruptions.