In the early 1990’s the economies of Central Eastern Europe were emerging from decades of under investment.
A centrally planned state system was making way to markets and free enterprise. Retail barely existed at all.
Choice in consumer goods was limited and long queues all too frequent and frustrating, with a creaking infrastructure often failing to deliver even basic goods to market.
Now the high streets and shopping centres of emerging Europe are beginning to catch-up with those found in Britain and Western Europe.
UK firms such as Tesco, King Fisher, Marks and Spencer, Sports Direct, Costa Coffee, Mothercare and Café Nero are all established throughout the region.
However, British brands remain underrepresented in a retail market recording annual spend at £320 billion (2012) and estimated to grow at 6% per annum until 2016.
Despite the presence of hundreds of shopping centres, the CEE region welcomed an additional 1.5 million m2 of new retail space in 2013.
Hypermarkets are predicted to grow yet further with significant opportunities identified for the non-food retail chains, clothing, footwear and furniture sectors.
A shopping centre led region, CEE consumers can be characterised as being dynamic, sophisticated, weel travelled and hungry for new brands.
Quality, choice, convenience and value for money are particularly important to be successful in a region with a combined GDP of over £1 trillion, and growing.
Transport and infrastructure projects have eased logistical problems and opened up new opportunities, with the online sector predicted to expand by 26% in the short term.
And with CEE economies forecast to maintain long term growth (2% – 4% forecast for much of the region in 2014), a consumer base becoming increasingly affluent, ambitious and educated the race to supply a market of 120 million shoppers is becoming ever more competitive.
Besides the increasingly competitive nature of the market, potential entrants will also need to consider subtle differences in culture which need to be studied and understood to be prosperous in the region.
British brands are highly regarded and building one is becoming increasingly expensive.
Enterprise Europe Network has over 100 partner offices throughout the Central Eastern European region ready to help you find new agents, distributors, representatives, joint venture partners and suppliers.
Contact us for more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 641 9955 (option 2).