Belarus’s retail sector is still underdeveloped, but some companies are beginning to take advantage of the opportunities.
The presence of Mothercare, a British company selling clothes and equipment for babies and young children, in Belarus is a sign of the growing consumer demand and spending power in the republic. The first franchised store opened in Minsk in 2007 and by 2009 another three stores were up and running, with 70 people employed.
On the back of these successes, the company has identified similar business opportunities in other parts of Belarus, with outlets planned in the cities of Vitebsk and Gomel, and a target of a dozen stores in the republic in the coming years.
The glittering Stolitsa underground shopping centre is a sign of how quickly Belarus is developing, and how much retail variety Minsk’s increasing well-off inhabitants demand.
The shopping centre lies below the city’s central square, covering 75,000 square metres, and houses around 100 shops and outlets including grocery stores, clothes and electrical goods stores, cafes, restaurants, banks, and a cinema (which can be hired for private use).
To accommodate customers, the centre has four levels and a 500 space car park and is located 50 metres from a metro station and 400 metres from the city’s main railway and coach terminus.
The centre, which opened in 2007, has a central glass dome to let in natural light from Minsk’s central square above. In 2008 the design was judged the ‘best development in the CIS’ by an international council of architects, ahead of 90 other projects from across the region.
As well as shopping, the centre offers plenty of entertainment to attract visitors including regular pop and classical music concerts, exhibitions and food and wine tasting.
Development of a 100,000 square metre shopping mall in the Minsk City development is also underway, which is expected to open in 2012.
OMA hypermarket is a joint investment project of Belarus, Lithuania and Finland. The construction of the hypermarket started in autumn 2009. Finnish corporation Kesko and its Lithuanian partner, Senukai, have played the role of strategic partners of the Belarusian company OMA, the national largest retailer of construction materials, instruments and household goods. The investment value of the hypermarket is €9.5 million including designing, construction and equipment.
The area of the trading facility totals 8600 square meters, with the selling space of more than 5500 square meters. The hypermarket features over 45,000 descriptions of goods.
The development program of the Belarusian OMA retail network envisages the construction of several modern trading facilities through 2015. Foreign partners will assist OMA in increasing retail trade within the next three years.
OMA was founded in March 1992. Today OMA heads the big five construction retailers of Belarus. Its retail network includes chain stores in Minsk, Gomel, Bobruisk and Baranovichi. OMA has its subsidiaries in all oblast centers of Belarus. The company employs over 1,000 staff.