Russian Chain Invades Germany To Take On Lidl And Aldi

A Russian discount supermarket chain has expanded into Germany to battle Lidl and Aldi on their home turf.

Massive crowds turned up for the grand opening of the controversial Russian supermarket chain which hopes to compete with German rivals Lidl and Aldi.

Supermarket discounter Mere opened up its first store in Leipzig, a city in the eastern German state of Saxony.

Credit: CEN
Massive queues for the check out registers running to the end of the store

Mere, which is owned by Russian investment group Torgservis, attracted large crowds and the queues reportedly stretched to the end of the megastore.

According to local media, the opening received mixed views. Many praised the cheap prices, such as bottles of wine for 1 EUR (0.9 GBP) and frying pans for just 2.7 EUR (2.3 GBP) while others were disappointed with the range on offer.

One man who bought two bottles of wine said: “Yes, it is even cheaper than Aldi, but I actually wanted to buy frozen foods and they don’t have any in the store yet.”

Other customers complained that they could not even find butter at the Mere supermarket.

The bare-bones store layout – which even puts Aldi to shame – also received mixed reviews.

One woman said: “It looks like a warehouse, but with six people at home it is always nice to save a bit.”

A Mere spokesperson said that these problems will be solved soon and that more products will be made available.

Germany’s largest tabloid ‘Bild’ mocked: “So this is what a full-scale attack on Lidl and Aldi looks like?”

Retail management professor Erik Maier said that he was sceptical about the chances of Mere surviving in the German market.

Credit: CEN
A queue in front of the Mere in Leipzig

He said: “The supermarket trade in Germany has very low margins, and food prices are much lower than the EU average, so traders have to come up with something new.

“Store formats like this discount chain have failed in the German market in the past.”

Local media cited the previous examples of US giants Walmart and French supermarket chain Intermarche.

Over the next few years, Torgservis plans to open around 100 stores in the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Brandenburg and Berlin.

It is not yet known if the Russian investment group plans to set up supermarkets in other European countries such as the UK.

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Story By: Koen BerghuisSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

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