The German retail combine Metro Group is planning to open 15 new stores in Russia in the 2006 fiscal year, and is planning further ambitious expansion in the country over the next five years.

Included in the expansion programme will be the opening of the first Russian outlets under the Media Markt banner. Media Markt outlets are set to open Moscow and St Petersburg.

In addition, the company plans to open eight Metro Cash & Carry stores in 2006. Six of these will be in cities where Metro is not currently present. There are also plans to open five Real hypermarkets in the country.

“Our expansion to Russia is characterised by entrepreneurial, pioneering spirit and calculated courage,” said Metro’s CEO Hans-Joachim Körber. “This strategy has proven to be successful. In just five years Metro Group has risen to the top of the Russian retail sector.”

Körber added that the company was looking to expand further over the next five years. “In the next five years we are also targeting ambitious goals,” he said. “We want to further expand our store network in Southern and Western Russia and at the same time also quickly advance expansion into the East of the country.”

Metro reported that in the 2005 fiscal year it saw its sales in Russia rise by 66% to almost EUR1.5bn (US$1.92bn).