Russian visitors boost retail trade in eastern Finland

Russian entrepreneurs to build Vaalimaa Shopping Center near the border between Finland and Russia.

The increasing number of Russian visitors to Finland in recent years has provided a significant boost to the retail trade in eastern Finland. Laplandia market, located in Lappeenranta near the Nuijamaa border crossing between Finland and Russia, has increased its turnover from about EUR 13 million to more than EUR 33 million in just a few years. Laplandia's profits have also more than doubled, according to its managing director Mohamed Darwich.

Laplandia's customers consist mainly of Russians who are visiting Finland and this has also been taken into consideration in the market's product selection, says Darwich. He is currently planning to expand the business and is looking for a second location in the border area. Rajamarket, another Finnish company mainly serving Russian tourists which has five stores in south-east Finland, has also improved its turnover and profitability in recent years.

Russian entrepreneurs Denis Kirillov and Jaroslav Gerasimov have been given the green light by the municipality of Virolahti to construct Vaalimaa Shopping Center over the next four years. Work on the first phase of the project will commence in spring 2013. The 35,000 square metre shopping centre is expected to be completed in 2016 and will employ about 400 people.

Russian visitors to Finland spend on average EUR 111 per day, according to the Border Interview Survey by Statistics Finland and the Finnish Tourist Board. In 2011, the number of Russian visitors to Finland increased by 27% from the year before, reaching a total of 3.26 million visits.

Sources: YLE.fi, Kymen Sanomat, Statistics Finland