Russian hard discounter Mere, which announced major expansion plans in Western Europe earlier this year, has made its plans for the French market tangible. The chain wants to open three stores in October and aims for branches in all major French cities. The first Belgian store, meanwhile, seems to face a delay.
Up to 30 % cheaper than competitors
The first French Mere stores will open in the northeast of France: the stores in question are located in Pont-Sainte-Marie (near Troyes), Sainte-Marguerite (in the Vosges) and Thionville (just south of Luxembourg). Remarkably, although Mere expresses ambitions for major French cities, none of those stores are in a major urban area.
The expansion strategy is the same as in other countries where Mere recently landed. The chain is not building new stores, but is looking for existing premises with relatively modest surface areas of 800 to 1,200 sqm.
The commercial positioning also leaves little to the imagination. From the French website of Mere, potential suppliers know precisely where they stand. "The price of the product in the supermarket, including transport costs, must be 20 to 30 % lower than the price of competitors", it says. And that is not all: all unsold goods must be taken back by the supplier.
Time is running short for Mere Opwijk
Regional diversification is not a thing for Mere: its concept is being rolled out uniformly in all the new markets that the chain targets. This is also true for Belgium, where we are still waiting for the first store to open in Opwijk. RetailDetail was able to confirm on-site that work is being carried out on the layout of the store. The first row of shopping trolleys with the Mere logo is already in place, but there is still much work to be done.
When Mere announced its Belgian plans, it was aiming to open its first store in September. That deadline is getting tighter and tighter. The Belgian website still only exists in two languages: English and Russian, despite promising buttons for Dutch and French. The vacancy for an "agent" to track down new store locations is still open. So Mere still has about a month to finish the store and to look for staff and suppliers. The latter must also be able to deliver "more cheaply" than the competitors and take back unsold stock. It will get interesting.