Russian discounter Mere has announced its plans to open its first Belgian store in Opwijk (near Brussels) this September. However, the town’s mayor says a permit has not yet been requested.
Mere’s plans involve the former Red Market supermarket, where Delhaize experimented with its own lowest-price chain until 2016. The first Belgian Mere is to open in “August or early September”, according to Jean-Claude De Gheest. The consultant and founder of the Belgian Mere branch claims permits have been requested for two months now, but mayor Inez De Coninck says in newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that she has not yet seen such a request.
De Gheest does not doubt the success of his first store in Belgium, despite the fact that Opwijk – a town with just 15,000 inhabitants – already has supermarkets of the chains AD Delhaize, Albert Heijn, Aldi, Carrefour Market, Colruyt and Spar. He is convinced that his low prices will give him the edge, as recession looms and food prices are on the rise. “We will offer chicken from the Ukraine, produced by a farmer who uses his farmland up to the last square inch.” The lack of comfort will not be an issue, he thinks: “If a customer sees that he has saved 100 euros at the end of the month, he will gladly forgive us for that.”
The uncompromising hard discounter Mere has big plans for Western Europe, with ten stores in Belgium by the end of the year as well as openings in Austria, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. The chain is already active in Germany, Spain and several Eastern-European countries.