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Merlion launches Citilink retail concept

by Stuart Wilson, Friday 29 May 2009

Russian distribution giant Merlion is expanding its retail footprint through Citilink, its latest project aimed at advanced PC users. Citlink has been set up by Merlion as a fully-fledged retail project offering customers two methods of purchasing: an online e-commerce store or through an in-store electronic terminal. Merlion claims that Citilink’s e-commerce store is already attracting hundreds of shoppers each day.

Citilink is targeted at both individuals and also SMBs with special in-store rooms for presentations. Merlion’s management team reckon that the new trading format, which it describes as a ‘discounter’, will work well in the current economic conditions. Merlion has ploughed US$4.5m into its latest retail venture and is confident that it can recoup this investment within two years. Merlion already runs another network of retail outlets under the Positronica brand.

“Thoughts of creation of one more retail network appeared at the very beginning of 2008,” commented Vyacheslav Simonenko, general director at Merlion. “At that moment, nobody even supposed that a time would come when almost all retail computer market players would have to reconsider their price limits. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases it damaged own profits.”

“Our discounter was opened exactly in such difficult period. But we have no doubts that the project will stay alive and will successfully develop, because we have selected a very successful commercial format: a discounter. Due to [this], today we are ready to offer high quality products at low prices to our customers,” Simonenko added.

Merlion reckons that Citlink can undercut mainstream market prices by approximately 20% thanks to the venture’s direct access to manufacturers and the reduced costs in terms of service personnel and logistics. All products will ship directly from the manufacturer to the Citilink warehouse via Merlion.

During the next five years, Merlion plans to expand the Citilink concept and open discounters in all Russian cities with a population base exceeding one million. Sergey Kovalenko heads the Citilink project. Merlion bills itself as Russia’s number one technology distributor and works with approximately 70 vendor partners. The company sells through a network of 1,200 dealers throughout the Russian Federation.

Channel development in Russia & CIS has become a whole lot easier in 2009 with the launch of the first ever DISTREE IT Channel Week from June 17th to 19th in Moscow. The event unites Digital Consumer Channel (DCC) with Digital Business Channel (DBC) in one super sized event, letting vendors and channel partners achieve more in a shorter period of time. See www.dcc-cis.com for more details.

DISTREE IT Channel Week brings together the two premier events for channel development in Russia & CIS. The event will take place at Moscow Country Club and includes a compelling mix of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings, conference sessions, awards, evening functions and networking opportunities.

DISTREE IT Channel Week – including both DBC & DCC - is organised and managed by DISTREE Events, a Paris-based company that has helped vendors engage with channel partners in markets across EMEA for more than a decade.

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