What is a hypermarket?
Because the word is relatively new to the English language, various definitions have been coined. Generally, a hypermarket is simply a large supermarket covering a floor space of above 5,000 square metres, with at least 18 cash registers, offering over 30% of non-grocery products and employing at least 500 workers.
1989 - As Communism fell, every 1,000 Slovak consumers was served by 330 square metres of retail space, compared to 900 in West Germany; each Slovak retail worker served 55 citizens, compared to 30 in West Germany. Self-serve grocery stores accounted for only 59.2% of grocery sales in Slovakia, while in West Germany the share was 98.6%.
1992 - US Kmart buys retail centres in Slovakia which used to be known as Prior.
1994 - British chain Tesco begins expansion into central Europe -Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.
April 1996 - Tesco buys largest shopping centre in Bratislava, as well as a further six shopping centres (in Nitra, Žilina, Banská Bystrica, Stará Tura, Košice and Prešov) from Kmart. Tesco pays Kmart $117.5 million for the seven Slovak sites and another six Czech centres, which altogether represent floor space of 93,000 square metres.
December 1996 - Tesco leads retail sector in Slovakia with 3.8 billion crowns in turnover.
Spring 1997 - First articles appear in Slovak press asking if an 'era of hypermarkets' await the country. Slovakia at the time sees 82% of retail sales racked up by small shops and kiosks (less than 400 square metres), 13% through supermarkets (from 400 to 5,000 square metres) and 5% through cash and carry; in Europe the average is 21% of sales through hypermarkets (for definition, see box this page), 37% through supermarkets, 35% through small retailers and 7% through discount outlets.
October 1997 - Tesco announces plans to build Slovakia's largest shopping centre in Nitra, with 1,600 square metres of retail space and 1,000 parking spots. Austrian firms Billa and Baumax are also looking for building sites in Nitra.
November 1997 - City Center shopping mall opens in downtown Bratislava with 14 shops and restaurants. The project took 18 months to complete and cost 142 million crowns. German-Austrian investor MTK announces plans for another four projects on Obchodná Street.
January 1998 - Tesco announces plans to build a shopping centre of 3,000 square metres in Prešov.
May 1998 - The Soravia Shopping Park, so far the largest shopping centre in Slovakia, opens in Bratislava. Retail space of over 10,000 square metres has been rented by 24 retail firms. Construction took only nine months, while investment was 500 million crowns. Return on investment is set at 20 years by investor Hanno Soravia. Total jobs created are 450.
November 1998 - Market survey agency Incoma Praha reports that Slovakia has 44 supermarkets, but only 10 of them meet European standards. Slovakia also has only six foreign retail chains operating on its territory (Tesco, DM, Ikea, Baumax, Billa, Reitan), compared with 20 in Hungary, 27 in the Czech Republic and 28 in Poland.
December 1998 - Foundation stone laid for largest shopping centre in Slovakia, the Polus Centre, which is also to be the first integrated retail, administrative and entertainment location in the country. Polus promises to offer 55,000 square metres in the Bratislava district of Nové Mesto. The centre is to contain a 15,000 square metre hypermarket owned by the French Carrefour.
January 1999 - Tesco turnover for 1998 in Slovakia estimated at 4.8 billion crowns.
June 1999 - Tesco opens Slovakia's first hypermarket in Nitra with 7,207 square metres of retail space and 40,000 kinds of goods, creating over 400 jobs.
October 1999 - Tesco opens second hypermarket in Košice, one of 10,000 square metres, that was built for a cost of 430 million crowns.
April 1999 - Belgian firm Delhaize buys 11 shopping centres in Slovakia belonging to the group Prior Stred, and employing 1,350 people
October 1999 - Foundation stone laid for a 45,000 square metre hypermarket owned by Carrefour in the Danubia Shopping Centre in the Bratislava district of Petržalka. Total investment is 1.3 billion crowns, with 700 jobs created.
1999 - Tesco's turnover in Slovakia hits seven billion crowns.
June 2000 - Market survey agency GfK predicts that by 2003, 15% of Slovaks will do their shopping at hypermarkets.
August 2000 - Tesco opens a third hypermarket in Slovakia, an 8,000 square metre, 450-job operation in Banská Bystrica.
October 2000 - Tesco opens fourth Slovak hypermarket in Trnava, creating 560 new jobs.
October 2000 - Carrefour announces plans to build a hypermarket in Košice, as part of the 30,000 square metre Cassovia Shopping Centre to be opened in the city in mid-2001.
December 2000 - The domestic consumer goods cooperative SD Jednota opens its first Slovak hypermarket in Košice on 7,300 square metres of retail space at a cost of 200 million crowns and employing 130 people.
December 2000 - Tesco opens a 10,500 square metre hypermarket in the Bratislava suburb of Petržalka and promises another 10 of its type across Slovakia before 2003.
December 2000 - Hypermarket firm Kaufland opens three hypermarkets in Prešov, Trnava and Poprad.
November 2000 - Polus Centre officially opens in Bratislava, after a $70 million investment, offering 150 retail shops, restaurants and theatres.
2000 - By the end of the year, Slovakia has 11 hypermarkets and 23 supermarkets. The trend is expected to continue.
Compiled by Tom Nicholson from press reports