Mere store front

Source: Mere

The store in Preston closed in March last year

Russian discounter Mere is preparing to open stores in the UK again, by broadening its recently relaunched recruitment programme to find a property development manager.

According to a job ad posted on LinkedIn by Mere UK MD Olena Solodka, the role will involve “originating deals across the UK with a key focus on retail assets”. Requirements include the ability to travel within the UK and fluency in English.

It comes after Mere last month signalled its intention to relaunch in the UK by recruiting a London-based project manager to “assist the company to develop”.

Mere paused operations in a number of European countries in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year. In the UK it meant the closure a single store, in Preston.

The retailer was founded in 2009 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, where it trades as Svetofor. In 2021 – when the Preston store opened – it claimed to have 3,200 stores globally, including in Germany and Spain, and told The Grocer of plans for 300 in the UK within 10 years.

Its hard discounter model aims to undercut even Aldi and Lidl by up to a claimed 30% by dispensing with customer service, having suppliers deliver directly to stores and displaying products on pallets. However, the model had so far struggled to gain traction in the UK, with suppliers discouraged by the terms, including payment only for products that sell. As a result, the Preston store lacked many basic food lines.

According to Zia Ullah, partner at global law firm Eversheds Sutherland, there are no restrictions that would currently prevent a Russian-owned company such as Mere trading in the UK, nor a Russian parent company from funding its UK incorporated subsidiary.

“There is no specific sanction at the moment that prevents such an operation in the UK,” Ullah said.