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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tri Kita Beats Rival IKEA to Open

Russian-German joint venture LAMAKS plans to throw open the doors on the first phase of a whopping 90,000-square-meter furniture center called Tri Kita - or Three Whales - in the western outskirts of the city this month, officials from the center's manager said.

Although the exact date has not been set, the five-level complex on Mazhaiskoye Shosse - just a kilometer from the outer ring road - intends to inaugurate the underground and first floors before the end of the year, said an official from Grand, which will manage the complex.

The remaining floors will be opened at a rate of one a month, Dmitry Berman, Grand's advertising and public relations director, said Friday.

The store, built by Russian-German constructor Alliance, will be styled on the Grand complex at Khimki, with the least expensive furniture on the ground floor and prices climbing with the floor level, Berman said.

The 20,000-square-meter first floor is expected to sell low-priced, Russian-made furniture, real estate experts said. An identically sized underground level will sell recreational vehicles have a carpark. Street level and underground parking will accommodate 500 cars.

The second floor is expected to sell slightly more expensive furniture imported from countries such as those in Eastern Europe. The 8,000-square-meter third floor will have pricey Western furniture, and the 6,000-square-meter top floor will offer very expensive furniture. Some 20,000 square meters of those floors will be allotted for leisure activities and complementary goods like lamps.

Berman would not put a price tag on the project, but real estate experts estimated its cost at well over $100 million.

Construction on the center started in July 1998, Berman said.

The example of the wildly successful 27,000-square-meter Grand store in Khimki has been the inspiration for Tri Kita, and similar stores are planned, Berman said. The Khimki center opened three years ago.

"When we built this store, it was a first for Moscow because there weren't any such furniture stores in the capital," Berman said.

Tri Kita, named for the three buildings making up the complex, is set to open three months before the launch of a large rival, the 33,000-square-meter IKEA furniture superstore at a planned 150,000-square-meter shopping center, on the northern edge of Moscow, just off Leningradskoye Shosse.

Some real estate experts said it was too soon to say if one of the giant stores would draw customers away from the other.

"Who will be the most successful: a Russian brand that knows its own market or an international company that offers cheap and good-quality products? That I don't know," said Michel Pascalis, partner at Jones Long LaSalle.

But he added: "Khimki has been a success, so I don't see why this [new Grand] store will not be popular also."

Other industry insiders said there was plenty of room for both mammoth stores in a market that sorely lacks good quality and affordable furniture shops.

"There's a huge potential in furniture sales," said Natalia Oreshina, retail consultant at Stiles & Riabokobylko, the Moscow associate of Healey & Baker and the leasing agent for IKEA. "The more dealers there are on the market, the better it is for everyone."