Russian barebones discounter returns to Western Europe

Mere, the hard discounter from Russia, seems to be in the middle of a relaunch in Western Europe. The chain opened two stores at the end of last year and a third last month in Spain. The company plans to open another six new stores in Spain this year. In Belgium, it opened three stores under the ‘MyPrice’ banner with plans for another three here this year. The discounter announces the opening of eight or nine stores under the MyPrice banner in Germany this year.

It is a remarkable move for a company that did an earlier push into Western Europe a few years ago. The discounter opened one store in Belgium in 2022 and pulled the plug after a few months. It similarly entered and left the UK, Germany, Austria, France and Spain. At the time, it was said that there were supply issues and a lack of interest of the West European consumer.

The Mere and MyPrice banners belong to the Siberian group Svetofor. In Russia the retailer trades under the Svetofor name and is among the top ten food retailers. In Eastern Europe, it has stores under the Mere banner, amongst others, in Czechia, Serbia and Lithuania.

The retailer works with a super simple concept in order to cut costs wherever possible. It sells a changing range of unknown brands displayed on pallets. The stores look like bare containers without any decoration. Goods are sold at prices that are 20 to 30% lower than those of other discounters. The stores operate with a limited workforce and are located at cheap locations outside the cities. It remains to be seen whether the concept will appeal to consumers this time.

Meanwhile, the Belgian Economic Inspectorate is conducting an investigation into the MyPrice chain. It will be examined, among other things, whether it complies with European sanctions against Russia.