Mere, a hard-discount grocer from Russia wants to expand further into Europe and into Greece in particular. The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus is already getting worse —in fact according to Eurostat, disposable income will fall and unemployment will rise, while the unemployment rate in May was 17% from 15.7% in April and among young people under 25 years reached 37.5%— creating an opportunity for the low-budget retailer.
So far, however, any information about the Russian discounter’s plans in Greece is limited to a website (https://mere.gr) through which it has expressed its interest in renting real estate in all Greek cities with a population of over 25,000 inhabitants and in densely populated areas, as well as its intention on hiring staff (although it currently does not accept any other emails for job applications).
A model to lower prices
It is worth noting that groceries and non-food items sold at Mere are some 20% cheaper than other discount store chains such as Aldi and Lidl. On its international site Mere states that low prices are achieved by reducing packaging costs, but also by the commitments made by the supplier. Specifically, the supplier undertakes to take back 100% of unsold products and to deliver the products himself or a third party to each store at their own expense.
The Russian chain already cooperates with Greek producers and their products are sold in Mere stores abroad. At the same time, several Greek producers do not have access to mainstream supermarkets and therefore would be tempted to get their products to the shelves of the Russian store chain.
From Siberia to Greece
Mere’s owner, Torgservis, is headquartered in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. It has more than 800 discounters under the brand Svetofor (Russian for “traffic light”) mostly in small Russian towns and cities but also in 10 more countries, such as Belarus, China and Kazakhstan. The hard discounter’s business model has proved very popular in Russia, mainly due to the economic difficulties of the past few years.
Recently the chain expanded west. The name Mere was used in Romania, and then Torgservis moved to Germany and set up a subsidiary, TS Markt, in 2017.
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