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Serbia: Russian discount retail chain MERE to open three stores in a month

The Russian discount store chain Svetofor, known in Europe under the MERE brand, will launch its operations in the Serbian market in under a month by opening three stores. The first three stores, in Batajnica, Krusevac and Subotica, are already getting ready to open to shoppers in mid-January, followed by Kraljevo and Vrsac in February.

A total of 15 stores will have been opened in Serbia by late April or early May. Serbia Commerce Minister Tatjana Matic said that the line ministry had received confirmation from the Trade Representation of the Russian Federation about the opening of these stores. Mladen Alfirovic of the National Organization of Consumers of Serbia, points out that their organization strongly supports the arrival of competition in the retail sector. He adds that that’s good news for the shoppers because it ensures better shopping conditions in the sense of the better quality of goods and more affordable prices.

As announced in mid-August this Russian company’s subsidiary in Belgrade, MERE plans to open at least 100 stores, spanning 1,000 square metres each on average, in Serbia. MERE said that their prices would be at least 20% lower than the competition’s and that they planned to work directly with the producers, with strong quality control and a low trade margin. When MERE entered the German market in January 2019, the demand was so strong that they sold out all their stock within the first week, forcing them to temporarily close the store in Leipzig.

Mother Discount Retail Chain Svetofor is active in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and China, and opened stores in Romania, Germany, Lituania and now Poland under the brand MERE. Svetofor controls over 1,500 stores in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and China, opened its first discount stores in Germany and Romania in 2018 and 2019 and Lituania in 2020. The Svetofor chain of stores is managed by Torgservis. The owners are the Schneider family (92.5%), Valery Yakovlev (4.5%), Andrey Veykulainen (3%). Torgservistook the ninth place in the ranking of Russian FMCG retailers, compiled by InfoLine at the end of 2019, with around 500 stores opened in 2019 alone. This makes the company one of the fastest growing supermarket chains in the country, right after the market leaders X5 Retail Group and Magnit. Both X5 and Magnit also recently opened a discount store format in Russia. Torgservis revenue in 2019 amounted to a little more than $1.4B (26% more than in 2018).

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