‘Russian Lidl’ to open first UK store within weeks

A no-frills store known as the “Russian Lidl” will open its first UK store in the coming weeks.

Discount grocery chain Mere claims to be 30 per cent cheaper than the nation’s most popular low-cost retailers and it will open its first UK store in Preston on August 14, in a former branch of Nisa.

The store was initially scheduled to open at the start of the year but this was delayed until June because of pandemic hold-ups, reports the Mirror.

Mere UK business development manager Aleksandr Chkalov told The Grocer: “We will be glad to present our new retail model: a real hard discounter, with no shelves, no service, no convenience, just the lowest prices.”

Some of the brands that will be sold in the Preston store are Cusheen toilet paper, Maxsonic batteries, Reach sanitising wipes and Warrior energy drinks. It will stock up to 1,200 products overall.

Further three Mere outlets are also planned this year – including two in Wales, in Mold and Caldicot, and another in Castleford in Yorkshire.

It is also planning sites in Devon, Stockport, Neath, Banbury, Selby, Bradford, Middlesbrough, Grantham, Kettering, Plymouth, Beckenham, Gloucester, Northampton, Cardiff, Oswestry, Barnsley, Sheffield, Exeter, Stretford, Southampton, south Scotland and Wales.

In total, the discounter has said it wants to open 300 sites in the UK within a decade but no other locations have been confirmed.

Mere, which trades as Svetofor in Russia, has 3,200 stores internationally and opened its first European Mere store in 2018. It now operates in include Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine.

Mere stores double up as warehouses, with images from other sites across Europe showing items displayed on pallets. Shoppers pick items directly from these pallets, saving Mere time and money on stacking shelves.

Suppliers are also expected to deliver straight to the shops, which will each be about 10,000 sq ft. Each must have parking spaces for 30-40 cars and a local population of 60,000 or more.

Each store in the UK will have just eight staff, to keep costs down.

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