Siberian discount chain wins over German consumers challenging local giants Aldi & Lidl

Siberian discount chain wins over German consumers challenging local giants Aldi & Lidl
One of Russia's largest thrift shop chains, Torgservis, has expanded to Germany with plans to open at least 100 stores in the east of the country. It aims to take on European hard discounters.

The retailer, which is already operating in other EU countries, has opened its first store in Leipzig last week under the brand name Mere, which it uses in Romania. According to media reports, the opening day came as a real sell-out with long lines formed at the cash desks.

The stores of the Siberian retailer look more like warehouses, with goods placed in boxes and bags on pallets. Seventy percent of the product range is low-cost food products as well as items for pets, household products, and apparel.

The company’s slogan is “Only [the] lowest prices every day,” and it says that it will make prices for goods cheaper than the cheapest in Germany. According to its website, prices in Mere stores will be 20 percent lower than market prices. The convenient location of stores and easy access are among other selling points for the brand. “In our shop, the customer pays for the goods, not for the brand,” the retailer says.

The first outlet in Germany is about 1000 sqm in size and located in a building previously used by local network Aldi. Expansion is planned in both Northern and Eastern Germany, including Berlin and the federal states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, and Brandenburg.

In 2018, the retailer entered the Romanian market, announcing that it wants to reach a network of 200-250 stores in two years on a hard discount format. In Romania, it is competing with two German chains Lidl and Penny Market that already have more than 400 stores together and a strong position on the market.

Founded in 2009, Torgservis successfully runs 800 discounts stores under the labels Svetofor and Mayak. With an annual turnover of about €1.5 billion, it is operating in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and China. Additional stores are planned in Poland.

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