* To keep expansion pace after record new stores in 2016
* Aims to increase market share to 15 pct by end-2020
* Net retail sales up 26 pct y/y so far in 2017
MOSCOW, March 27 Russian food retailer X5
said it aims to match last year's record 2,000 store
openings in 2017 as part of plans to almost double its market
share in the next four years.
The company, which at the end of 2016 overtook Magnit
as Russia's biggest food retailer by sales, is
targeting a 15 percent share of the market by the end of 2020,
up from 8 percent now, under a plan announced last year.
"We are now working towards this ambitious target. On the
subject of openings this means that we should maintain the
current level of growth in absolute terms," Chief Executive Igor
Shekhterman said on Monday. He was speaking on a conference call
after X5 announced a 15.6 percent rise in fourth-quarter net
profit to 2.4 billion roubles ($42 million).
The retailer, just under 50 percent owned by Russia's Alfa
Group - an investment vehicle of billionaire Mikhail Fridman and
his partners - opened 2,167 stores in 2016, compared to 1,537 in
2015, despite weak consumer spending in Russia.
It will open "2,000 plus" stores in 2017, Shekhterman said.
Russia's economy is expected to return to growth this year
thanks to the recovery in oil prices, after two years of
X5's retail sales were up by around 26 percent so far this
year on a year ago, Chief Financial Officer Dmitry Gimmelberg
On a like for like basis though, excluding new stories,
sales were up 7 percent and Shekhterman said consumers were
"To date, in the current year, things remain in line with
last year's trends. Customers remain extremely rational and
continue to seek out the best prices and promos," Shekhterman
X5 would remain focused on organic growth and maintaining
margins, he said.
The retailer said on Monday that earnings before interest,
taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jumped 48 percent
to 19.9 billion roubles in the fourth quarter.
Its EBITDA margin increased to 6.8 percent, from 5.8 percent
a year earlier.
New stores helped X5's retail sales jump 27.5 percent for
the whole of last year, driven mainly by the group's low-cost
($1 = 56.9900 roubles)
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Olga Sichkar; Editing by