Spar International, an international subsidiary of French retail giant Intermarché, yesterday launched a new phase of its eastward expansion programme by opening a supermarket in the Russian capital of Moscow.

The store measures 1,800 m2 and cost US$3m to build. It will soon be followed by a number of other stores in Russian cities. Spar plans to invest some US$50m in thirty new outlets in Russia over the next two and a half years.

Western retailers have shown increasing interest in Russia since disposable income began to rise again after the economic crisis of the mid ‘90s. As Dmitry Maslov, Spar Retail general manager, commented: “Strategically, Russia became interesting 1 1/2 years ago as average personal incomes reached the necessary level for developing supermarkets.”

German group Metro recently moved into Russia, while Auchan of France has bought plots of land for four stores in and around Moscow.