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More international retailers expected in Romania

With 2 million square meters of retail space available until 2010 - four times more than the current level, the domestic market is attracting more and more European clothing and footwear retailers – reports Ziarul Financiar.

“The opening of new stores depends on the development of shopping malls and the quality of available locations,” stated Gerald Zimmermann, managing director of Humanic for the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. Humanic is a multi-brand concept store with a minimum surface area of 500 square meters, which was introduced onto the domestic market by Leder and Schuh, the largest Austrian footwear retailer and one of the top six such retailers in Europe.

Leder & Schuh, which operates 70 stores in Eastern Europe, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, has announced the opening of a Romanian store next spring. “The Romanian market is a modern market, inspired by the Italian style,” Zimmermann explained. He added that prices vary depending on the brand, starting at a very low level and reaching a higher level for luxury products such as Hugo Boss.

Deichmann, Europe’s biggest footwear retailer is not failing to take advantage of the Romania market either, however, the first cities targeted do not include Bucharest. The company, which operated 2,185 stores over 13 European markets at the end of last year, will open its first three stores in Pitesti, Roman and Arad. “We chose these cities because they are in different areas of the country and will help us cover more regions,” said Deichmann officials, explaining their choice of locations. They also confirmed that their plans were not limited to this project alone. “We want to open six or seven locations in Romania by the end of the year,” added the officials. Deichmann's retail prices of footwear range from €5 to 90.

With more and more companies entering the domestic market, local retailers also have expansion plans, both for the domestic market and for other regional markets. One such retailer is Leonardo, which is currently looking at locations in Moldova, Ukraine and Turkey. Although the entrance of international chains is good for consumers, this does not bode well for domestic producers. This is because most of the products they sell will be imported, explained Maria Grapini, chairperson of the Federation of Employers in Light Industry. The retailer offensive on the Romanian market is also apparent on the clothing retail segment.

At the end of May, Baltika announced that it intended to open 12 to 20 stores over the next four years in every major city in Romania. Although company officials did not reveal a specific city it had in mind, it said it would probably open Mosaic or Monton stores. Another clothing chain set to enter the market is Takko, due to arrive this autumn. It will open its first store in Arad in September and will open at least two more stores at different locations in the autumn, with a further 15-20 stores planned for next year.

Who enters the market:
Deichmann: six or seven stores in Romania this year. Starts with Pitesti, Roman and Arad
Leder & Schuh: first store opens in Baneasa next spring; seeks new expansion opportunities
Takko: three stores this autumn and another 15-20 in 2008; starts in Arad
Baltika: 12-20 stores in the next four years in all major cities in Romania