Western retail business looks to Russian capital for new markets

EUROPEAN retailers are increasingly shifting their focus eastwards, as Moscow becomes a top destination for shoppers and consumer spending.

Mark Faithfull, the editor of Retail Property Analyst, said: “Moscow is the obvious starting point for international retailers looking to expand”.

He added that while luxury products were the first to find the market, familiar brands like Zara, H&M, Debenhams and Topshop were warming to the city.

A recent report by EY, formerly Ernst & Young, found a number of brands from around the world are looking to invest more in Moscow. Danone plans to invest $700m (£449.8m) in its production there, and Unilever aims to spend $70m expanding a food plant there.

Coca-Cola and McDonalds also have their sights set on expansion in Russia more generally, hoping to invest $3bn in the next five years and open 150 more restaurants respectively.

In food, mass grocery retail is expected to grow to take up more than four fifths of the market in four years’ time, almost doubling from its current level, suggesting a boost for western firms.

Jane Harrison, former international director of River Island, added: “Modern retail is relatively new to Moscow and Russia, and it is not that long ago that all stores were state owned with little or no choice.”