Purpose - Research on international retailing has generally emanated from Europe and North America. Nonetheless, retailers from emerging countries can also be important players in regional markets. The purpose of this paper is to explore how retailers from emerging markets can become strong enough to compete internationally.Design/methodology/approach - The study examines a longitudinal case study of the internationalisation process of Falabella, a Chilean retailer that has recently become an important player in the Latin America retail industry. Drawing on 32 interviews with company managers, as well as industry data and corporate reports, this paper provides insights into the successful internationalisation process of a retailer from an emerging country. Findings - The paper offers insights into emerging market internationalisation. In particular, these findings suggest that specific capabilities and resources, such as local and regional partnerships, organisational learning, innovation orientation, adaptation to the local markets, and an experienced management team, are required for emerging market retailers to internationalise and improve their likelihood of success in foreign markets. Research limitations/implications - This paper explores an underdeveloped topic through the analysis of a longitudinal case study. Thus, it is necessary to further expand this line of research and investigate other emerging market retailers.Practical implications - This study raises a number of important issues for emerging market retail managers that are reluctant to expand abroad and compete with large multinationals from developed markets, or that are struggling with their actual internationalisation process. Originality/value - To date, the retail internationalisation literature has focused on the international experiences of firms from developed nations. However, there is a gap in the literature as to how retailers from emerging countries can become strong enough to compete internationally.