Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, will receive its first modern high quality supermarket chain, forcing local food manufacturers and distributors to raise their standards.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) plans to lend EUR10m (US$12.62m) and buy a EUR1.5m equity stake in Albanian chain Euromax. This will fund half a planned Euromax EUR23.5m investment programme, involving constructing and operating five supermarkets in Albania’s main cities, including the capital Tirana.

The EBRD said its participation would “promote competition and increased efficiency, and establish best industry practice with regard to food hygiene, and health and safety standards in the Albanian food distribution sector”.