Counter-hostility as defensive strategy in a hostile takeover: the acquisition of Hillards supermarket chain by Tesco

Philip Garnett*, Simon Michael Mollan, Benjamin Richards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hillards was a retail supermarket firm based in Yorkshire in the North of England between 1885 and 1987, when it was subject to a hostile takeover from Tesco. Using archival and interview data this article explores how Hillards engaged in a sense-making process to engage in a strategy of counter-hostility to the takeover attempt. Ultimately the firm was acquired by Tesco. By examining the Hillards defence strategy, this paper contributes to the understanding of the nature of strategy-making within a takeover. The article shows how in defeat Hillards was able to secure a partial victory in the form of a substantially increased cost of acquisition, so maximising shareholder value. This contributes to the history of the supermarket sector, and the history of family firms in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Feb 2024

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