Metro opens second store in Kazakhstan

Sept 29. Reuters. ALMATY

By Olga Orininskaya

* Germany’s Metro plans five Kazakh stores by year-end * Longer term plan for 15-20 stores in Kazakhstan

Metro opens second store in KazakhstanGerman retailer Metro, the world’s fourth-largest retailer, on Wednesday launched the second of five stores it aims to open in Kazakhstan by the end of 2010, the start of a broader push into the steppe nation.

Frans Muller, chief executive of Metro Cash & Carry, Asia, CIS & New Markets, said the company saw potential for opening a total of 15-20 stores in Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest economy.

“We … see a very strong future in Kazakhstan, and that’s why we have chosen a very fast expansion in this country,” Muller told reporters.

He was speaking at the launch of Metro’s second store in Kazakhstan, located in the country’s commercial capital and largest city, Almaty.

Metro opened its first Kazakh store last year in the capital Astana and said at the time it would invest up to 300 million euros to create a chain of between 15 and 20 stores in the nation of 16 million people.

Metro would open another store in Almaty before the end of the year, said Muller, as well as stores in the southern city of Shymkent and the coal-mining city of Karagandy in central Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s economy, one of the first and hardest hit by the global financial crisis, has recovered to grow by 8 percent in the first six months of 2010, close to the average annual growth rate of nearly 9 percent achieved over the last decade. Large, modern chains account for only 10-15 percent of the country’s total retail turnover, Economy Ministry data shows. The government plans to increase this share to around 50 percent by 2014.