DIY giant Kingfisher is poised to set up shop in the former Soviet Union after sending an advance guard to Moscow to assess the market and investigate locations.
The retailer - which runs B&Q and Castorama - would be the first big UK store group to push into Russia. Foreign retailers such as Ikea and Metro are already there.
Kingfisher commercial manager for Russia Paul Drury said: 'We've had success in Poland, so it makes sense to look at Russia.' No decision has been made on whether stores would operate under the B&Q fascia or Castorama, which is already present in Poland.
Drury was at the Adam Smith Retail Conference in Moscow last week, where the future of retailing in Russia was discussed. He said Kingfisher was exploiting knowledge gained in Poland as it pondered a move into Russia.
It is understood Kingfisher would want to open 50 stores as quickly as possible.
A Kingfisher spokesman confirmed that the retailer was researching Russia, where some 70 per cent of DIY sales are made in open-air markets at present.
Kingfisher chief executive Gerry Murphy is eyeing various markets following success in the Far East and Europe.
B&Q China made its first profit of£400,000 in the year to January 31, and Poland and Italy showed strong growth.
One analyst said Russian expansion could leave management stretched.
'We're waiting for them to open the first Korean store and they are already in several other countries. On the other hand, it could be a great opportunity,' he said.