In 2002, the Moscow region administration worked out a project of the region's shopping quarters that was to include 50 shopping and entertainment centers, and Atac was expected to be among the leasers. Recently, however, the administration informed Vedomosti that cooperation with the chain had been frozen.
Market players expect that Atac, which for now intends to operate in the capital, will enter the market aggressively. As the chain's supermarkets will work with Auchan's suppliers, they will be able to sell goods cheaper than their Russian rivals, according to Svetlana Brusentsova of the PomidorProm canning holding.
Anton Bukanov, frozen goods producer Hortex's director for Russia, is positive that Atac will compete mainly with foreign chains like the Turkish supermarket Ramstore and Real, which will be opened by the German group Metro.
"Atac's coming to Russia will not be anything outstanding for the Russian market because it is not saturated yet," said Yulia Belova of Metro's Russia office.
Experts are split on the strategy Atac may choose to absorb the Russian market. The chain may develop by buying existing supermarkets, since redistribution of the retail market will continue for a long time, according to Anna Shiryayeva, general director of Magazin Magazinov.
Maksim Gasiyev, director of commercial property with Colliers International, predicts that Atac's supermarkets will be opened in shopping centers because it is no longer possible to find good premises in Moscow.
Auchan operates in 15 countries and manages 320 hypermarkets and 600 supermarkets. In Russia, it is represented by Auchan Russia, which manages six hypermarkets in Moscow and the Moscow region.