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Sarlos trying to woo Tesco, other retailers

Polus, the ambitious shopping, office, hotel, and apartment complex to be constructed by Hungarian-Canadian investor Andrew Sarlos in the Nové Mesto district of Bratislava, is already lining up its first tenants, according to a report in the Slovak daily Pravda. Gábor Zászlós, the representative in Slovakia for Sarlos's Central European Investment Corporation (CEIC), sounded like he had deals wrapped up, when he said that Polus's 40,000-square meter shopping center will house retailers Tesco, La Standa, and Michelfeit.
But officials at one of those companies - the British firm Tesco, which bought a chain of 13 department stores across the Slovak and Czech Republics from K-mart last year - say "that is not the case."

Polus, the ambitious shopping, office, hotel, and apartment complex to be constructed by Hungarian-Canadian investor Andrew Sarlos in the Nové Mesto district of Bratislava, is already lining up its first tenants, according to a report in the Slovak daily Pravda.

Gábor Zászlós, the representative in Slovakia for Sarlos's Central European Investment Corporation (CEIC), sounded like he had deals wrapped up, when he said that Polus's 40,000-square meter shopping center will house retailers Tesco, La Standa, and Michelfeit.

But officials at one of those companies - the British firm Tesco, which bought a chain of 13 department stores across the Slovak and Czech Republics from K-mart last year - say "that is not the case."

"We have general knowledge about this project," said Mirek Friml, Tesco's director of construction in Prague. "We would like to know more about it." Friml then added, "We are definitely going to expand in the

Czech and Slovak Republics," but with respect to the Polus site, he said there are "no contracts or commitments, as far as I know." Tesco officials said the firm is aiming to open more stores in both countries, and that those stores could enter new parts of cities already home to a Tesco, or completely new towns. The biggest Tesco store in either the Slovak or Czech Republic is in the heart of downtown Bratislava, but that would not rule out the possibility of a second Tesco opening in an outlying district of the capital, such as Nové Mesto.

In any case, Tesco officials sounded as though they are likely to open new stores before the 6 billion Sk ($200 million) Polus complex's completion date, which is targeted to be around the turn of the millenium. Zászlós said construction on the complex, which will feature three towers of more than 20 floors each, should begin by the end of the year and take three years to complete.

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