Micheline Mathot

Russian supermarket not really welcome in Opwijk

Mere, a Russian low-cost supermarket, is set to open its first Belgian outlet in Opwijk (Flemish Brabant) soon.  The chain believes it can undercut rivals by a full 20% by offering a limited range in Spartan conditions.  The people of Opwijk are not really chuffed with the new arrival given Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine.

Mere planned to open ten Belgian supermarkets last year, but the openings were postponed.

“They applied for a licence in the spring of 2021” intimates Opwijk Mayor Inez De Coninck.  “Long before the war in Ukraine.  They informed us in April of this year that they wanted to open.  The War had just started and Ukrainian refugees had started to arrive.  We told them we were opposed to their plans”.

Today Opwijk has run out of arguments to postpone the opening.  The outlet received its licence from the fire service last Monday.  Opwijk also contacted the interior ministry.  An official response hasn’t yet arrived, but Opwijk was told they too see no reason to stop the opening.

“Low cost, every day” is the Russians’ slogan.

Opwijk has asked the company not to stage a grand opening ceremony.

“We invited them to the municipal hall last April and made clear our opposition to Russia’s war.  They told us they would even employ Ukrainians, but I don’t know if that happened” says the mayor.


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