Wholesale trade has an intermediate position between manufacturing and retail in the distributional channel. In modern economies, consumers buy few, if any, products directly from manufacture or producer. Instead, it is a wholesaler, who is in direct contact with producers, buying goods in larger quantities and selling them in smaller quantities to retailers. Traditionally, the main function of a wholesaler has been to push goods along the distributional channel from producer to retailer, or other nonend user. However, the function of wholesalers usually goes beyond the process of the physical distribution of goods. Wholesalers also arrange storage, perform market analyses, promote trade or provide technical support to consumers (Riemers 1998). The existence of wholesalers (and other intermediaries) in the distributional channel is based on the effective and efficient performance of distribution services, that are needed by producers and other members of the supply chain. Producers usually do not enjoy the economies of scale that they have in production, when it comes to providing distributional services (Rosenbloom 2007) and this creates a space for wholesalers or other intermediaries. Even though recent developments in the distributional channel indicate that traditional wholesaling activities now also compete with other supply chain organizations, wholesaling still remains an important activity in many economies (Quinn and Sparks, 2007).
In 2010, the Swedish wholesale trade sector consisted of approximately 46.000 firms and generated an annual turnover of 1 300 billion SEK (Företagsstatistiken, Statistics Sweden). In terms of turnover, wholesaling accounts for 20% of the gross domestic product and is thereby the third largest industry. This is behind manufacturing and a composite group of firms in other sectors of the service industry but ahead of retailing. This indicates that the wholesale trade sector is an important part of the Swedish economy. The position of wholesaling is further reinforced when measuring productivity growth. Measured in terms of value added per employee, wholesaling experienced the largest productivity growth of all industries in the Swedish economy during the years 2000 through 2010.
The fact that wholesale trade is one of the important parts of a modern economy, and the positive development of the Swedish wholesale trade sector in recent decades, leads to several questions related to industry dynamics. The three topics that will be examined in this thesis are firm entry, firm relocation and firm growth. The main question to be answered by this thesis is what factors influence new firm formation, firm relocation and firm growth in the Swedish wholesale trade sector?
Borlänge: Högskolan Dalarna, 2013.