Latvian fast-food chain invited to Moscow

  • 2001-09-20
  • Rita Bubina
RIGA - Lido, one of Latvia's biggest restaurant chains, has been invited to start operations in Moscow, reported Riga Mayor Gundars Bojars, returning from anniversary celebrations in the Russian capital on Sept. 4. "Moscow Mayor Jury Luzhkov expressed an intense desire to see Lido open in Moscow," he said.

Riga municipality officials said Lido President Gunars Kirsons had expressed the willingness to open 20 fast-food restaurants, serving daily up to 400,000 people in Moscow, provided he had the cooperation of the city's authorities.

Expansion to Moscow would involve investment of around $1 billion, according to Kirsons. His plans also include opening a new complex of shops selling Latvian goods in Moscow. Provided it has the authorities' support, Lido will produce a business plan in six months.

Lido representatives were cautious about the Moscow plans.

Lido would not make capital investments in Moscow without collaborating from others, Vilnis Cirulis, the company's vice president, told the Latvian daily Diena. "If Lido were ever to invest abroad, we would invest only our experience in this business," he said "It wouldn't even be our chain of catering complexes, but that of local companies. We are waiting for matters to develop further. Only then will we be ready to give more specific information."

Bojars has expressed his readiness to help organize a meeting between Lido and Moscow City Council's representatives.

This spring Lido opened a new catering complex in Riga - the Russian Yard. Unlike its other outlets, which offer traditional Latvian food, customers can eat traditional Russian food, such as pelmeni dumplings, and Russian snacks and pickles - all in kitschy traditional Russian surroundings.

In May, 2001 entrepreneurs from nearby Estonia, Lithuania and Belarus expressed interest in opening Lido restaurants in their countries, but such plans have come to nothing.

In 2000 Lido was 519,000 lats ($823,800) in the red with a turnover of more than 12 million lats. In 1999, the company was 213,000 lats in the red with a turnover of 8.85 million lats. The company makes approximately one-third of its overall turnover from selling packaged meat. It employs more than 1,200 people, the majority of whom work in its restaurants, of which there are seven in Riga.

Cirulis said recent losses were due to the huge investment Lido had made in its Krasta Street leisure center as well as the costly Millennium celebrations it had mounted there. Having spent $10 million on the first phase of the Krasta Street complex, the next stage, which includes building a skating ring, is planned for completion by 2005. Lido's management estimates the total cost at around $100 million.