Mere, the Russian ‘superdiscounter’ that planned an invasion of Western Europe, is closing its only Belgian store just four months after opening. The chain claims still to aim for ten stores in the country, but its Western plans have repeatedly been seriously dented before.
Pilot shop closes already
The topsy-turvy story of Mere in Belgium is taking a new turn: the first (and, for now, only) store is closing next month, barely four months after opening in June. Whether there will be much for sale in the last few days remains to be seen, as suppliers have been instructed to come and collect all their products as from next week.
Nevertheless, the Russian discounter is still combative: according to its own statement on Facebook, it still intends to open at least ten shops in major Belgian cities. Whether they will actually be opened remains highly doubtful: the original ambition to open ten shops almost in one go in 2021 came to nothing. Moreover, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the company also closed all its British and Spanish shops and halted its plans in France.
Much ado about nothing?
Last year, Mere announced its intention to come to Belgium as well, with shops in Couvin, Flémalle and Opwijk “already assured”. The first did not get the necessary permits, the second was never heard of again, but the store in Opwijk near Brussels suddenly opened its doors this year – somewhat surprisingly, so soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The “uncompromising price fighter” has its own style, forcing suppliers to deliver a quarter cheaper than at competing discounters. Moreover, they have to take back unsold stock themselves. The offer therefore remained very limited, and the shop in Belgium never became a big magnet for customers.