The Russians are coming – Discounter MERE has plans for 300 UK stores

The Russians are coming – Discounter MERE has plans for 300 UK stores

A Russian discounter said to be a third cheaper than Aldi and Lidl is coming to the UK – with 300 stores expected in the coming years.

The Russian retailer Mere claims to be 30% cheaper than other discount grocers like Lidl and Aldi.

Owned by Svetofor in Sibera, Mere has a ‘no service, no marketing’ policy that allows them to pass savings on to the customer.

There are four stores due to open across the country, the first of which is in Preston, reportedly on the site of a former Nisa.

Although timings have not yet been confirmed, it’s thought that they could open their doors as early as this month. The other shops planned will be in Mold in North Wales, Caldicot in South Wales, and Castleford in West Yorkshire.

No frills

Shoppers can expect warehouse-style no-frills aisles, with 1,200 items and just eight members of staff per Mere shop.

There will be all the usual fresh and frozen products, but suppliers must deliver directly to the 10,000 sq ft. locations themselves (meaning Mere does not need to have excess storage space).

Mere operates in multiple European countries. The discounter is said to be considering sites in Southern Scotland, Devon, Cardiff, Banbury, Selby, Bradford, Grantham, Sheffield, Southampton, Stockport, Kettering, and Neath – although no indication that Northern Ireland is included in the vast expansion plans.

‘Gap in the market’

Mere has said that it is ‘the gap in the market’. “We don’t have any competitors” said a spokesperson.

The watertight business model is ‘no service and no marketing.’ Suppliers deliver direct to the store – not to a warehouse.

The full list of the initial 22 stores include England, Scotland and Wales – but not Northern Ireland.

Dubbed as “Russia’s Lidl”, Svetofor was founded in Siberia in 2009, but it’s opened stores in Europe since 2018 under the name Mere.

Mere is said to compare itself to Costco, but with no membership fee and no in-store service.

Amazon Fresh

Mere will be the latest discounter to arrive on the UK supermarket scene. Earlier this year, Amazon Fresh went head to head with supermarkets in March, opening its first real-life shop in Ealing Broadway, West London.

It will be the first of “several” launched in the capital this year – and there’s no tills to pay at.


Around the same time, another new budget supermarket called OOPS! offered a year’s supply of free nuggets to one customer. With stores in North East England, it is largely a discount frozen food retailer.

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