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Debenhams to re-enter Russia as demand for European retailers grows

Debenhams is to re-enter the Russian market with its first store since 2007.

The UK department store chain has partnered with franchise group and consultancy Debrus for the venture and will open its first store in the Ikea-owned Mega Belaya Dacha mall in Moscow on September 1.

The 35,000 sq ft store will sport Debenhams existing retail fit out concepts and will feature all its clothing divisions and designers, as well as beauty and cosmetics.

International director Francis McAuley told Drapers last November the department store chain planned to open eight stores in Russia over the next five years. This plan is still on track.

According to Lucy Haine, Debenhams senior business manager, the Russian market is one with “significant potential”.

She said: “It has a big population and Debenhams offers something different that’s not currently available in the market.”

She added: “We are opening with Ikea because they are an established shopping mall concept. In Moscow, Mega Belaya Dacha has an annual footfall of 70 million.”

The department store previously had a store in Russia but closed it in 2007. It declined to say why it exited the market at that time.

Debenhams is one of the latest retailers to become a tenant of Ikea’s Russian shopping centre network.

According to Håkan Nilsson, Ikea Russia’s leasing director, H&M will open five more stores across Mega shopping centres in Ekateriburg, Nizhniy Novgorod, Samara, St. Petersburg (Mega Parnas) and Ufa in the second and third quarters of 2012.

The shopping centre chain is on the hunt for more fashion tenants as demand for European fashion grows.

Nilsson said: “In general we don’t feel the crisis as in Europe. We have a big growing middle class and demand is very high for this sort of retail. In Moscow, fashion starts from luxury to democratic mass market, we have Karen Millen, Topshop, River Island, H&M, M&S – all the big names.  

“In our malls it’s 70% international and 30% local retailers. We want to have this international touch on our centres, it’s highly attractive for consumers.”

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