Identifying and selecting the 'right partner' is one of the key topics in the international retailing literature. Yet, current research provides little knowledge of how international retailers find and select joint venture (JV) partners in foreign markets. We investigate seven cases of British retail multinationals to address this research gap. We find that some retailers initiate formalised partner searches. In other cases, however, JVs arise opportunistically, involving no planned partner identification and selection. Retailer selection criteria revolve significantly around local relationships and market knowledge, specifically concerning local real estate. At the same time, some retailers understand that to leverage these local resources, the relationship and strategic fit with partners are critical.