International News - C-store sector leader plans 40-50 openings

Russia's largest grocer, Pyaterochka, is to increase store numbers by 30 per cent by the end of this year.

The convenience group's average shop is 585 sq m and it is the leading grocer in Russia by both sales and stores, according to supervisory board member David Noble.

Pyaterochka has 140 shops and plans to have between 180 and 190 by the end of this year.

'We are in the dormitory settlements of Moscow and St Petersburg and have nothing in the centres,' said Noble. 'One of our strategies when we began in 1999 was to grow as fast as possible. In the first stage, we have leased stores rather than building or buying.'

He said the aim is to make the format so convenient that customers could 'fall out of bed, go into one of our stores and have breakfast'.

Pyaterochka has increased its product range from 600 to 3,700 since 1999.

The newest stores are as big as 1,200 sq m and next year the retailer intends to open a 10,000 sq m hypermarket in St Petersburg.

Noble said Pyaterochka follows an EDLP strategy and targets people local to the shops and who do not own cars. Its regular customers visit stores every day or every few days.