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Home Improvement Retailer Kingfisher to Invest in Russia

The London-based retailer now has 13 Castorama stores in Russia. Yevgeny Stetsko

Kingfisher, Europe's largest home-improvement retailer, will invest "aggressively" in Russia, where the market is set to return to growth in the second half, chief executive Ian Cheshire said Thursday.

The London-based retailer, which has 13 Castorama stores in Russia, plans to open a smaller outlet in Moscow "within the next 18 months," Cheshire said in an interview. Kingfisher may use small-format stores as a test before openings in other European countries, he said.

"There is clearly an opportunity to open more stores" in Russia and Poland than the four and six per year now targeted respectively for the two countries, Cheshire said. "We expect Russia to be one of the highest growth markets in the world" over the next five years, he said.

The Russian home-improvement market may expand between 10 percent and 15 percent this year after being "difficult" over the last 12 months, Cheshire told reporters at a news conference. The retailer spends £30 million pounds ($44 million) to £50 million a year in the country and may invest more "if there are opportunities," the executive said in the interview.

Kingfisher does not rule out possible purchases in Russia "if there is an opportunity to acquire an interesting site," the CEO said.

The smaller format being tested will have about 60 percent of the retail space of the chain's normal outlets, with a full range of products but less stock. If successful, the new format may be used in other countries, particularly in Poland, Peter Hogsted, Kingfisher's international director, said in July.

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