Just days after Russian discounter Mere succeeded in opening its first store in Belgium, it is denied a permit to open a second one. An appeal procedure to be granted a permit for its Couvin store achieved nothing.
“Dangerous for traffic”
Couvin, a city in the southern province of Namur, does not want a Mere store on its territory – and is now backed by a regional minister. Just before Russia invaded Ukraine, Mere had applied for a permit to build its second Belgian store in Couvin, but the city council gave a negative advice. There already are enough retailers in the city, the council stated.
Mere appealed the decision, leaving it to Wallonia’s Economy Minister Willy Borsus to make a decision. He has now made the final call, confirming the city’s negative advice, Belgian public broadcaster RTBF writes. Borsus also mentioned the dangerous local traffic situation, the RTBF reports. The Siberian chain will therefore have to adapt its plans for its Belgian expansion.
Not enough suppliers
Mere announced its Belgian ambitions in May 2021, saying it wanted to open ten stores in the country in quick succession. It also quickly released the first three locations: Couvin, Flémalle and Opwijk. The latter has indeed recently opened, the status of the Flémalle project is unknown.
In several other European countries, Mere has completely given up its expansion plans: it closed all of its British and Spanish stores as it was unable to find enough suppliers who wanted to work under Mere’s cut-throat contracts and was further hampered by the public outcry following Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Mere became successful selling overstocks for extremely low prices, but in the current economic situation there are more shortages than leftovers.