VILNIUS - VP Market, operator of the largest Baltic grocery chain, is continuing its rapid expansion in Eastern Europe - particularly in the EU's soon-to-be-member states - opening its fifth T-market store in Bulgaria last week.
The new store, opened in Sofia, comes just three months after the retailer opened its first discount store in the country.
The company announced earlier this year that it would open 100 stores this year, with investments reaching 100 million euros.
VP Market currently operates 195 stores in Lithuania, 95 outlets in Latvia, 22 in Estonia, 8 in Romania, and 5 in Bulgaria.
Gintaras Mikulskas, board member in charge of VP Market's operations in Bulgaria, said earlier this year that the company intended to open 200 retail outlets in major Bulgarian cities over the next five years.
First-half 2005 sales amounted to 707.2 million euros in the three Baltic states and Bulgaria and Romania, a surge of 23 percent from the year-earlier figure of 572.1 million euros.
VP Market is currently the second largest company in Lithuania in terms of sales, the Verslo Zinios business daily reported earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the company reported that Janis Stakens would head its operations in Latvia, while his predecessor, Mindaugas Bagdonavicius, would return to Lithuania to take up a new appointment in the Vilniaus Prekyba Group.
Stakens, who has been working for VP Market since 2001, said that VP Market's main objective in Latvia was to maintain its position as a leader in the retail market. The company now has 95 stores, including 19 Maxima supermarkets and 76 Saulite discount stores, in the country.
Stakens was director of VP Market's Bulgarian operations prior to the new appointment.
Gintaras Marcinkevicius, managing director of VP Market, said that the results of the Latvian operations were pleasing and encouraging for the future. "In order to maintain our strong leading position in Latvia, we decided to place the company's management in that country into the hands of a local market specialist, who has successfully worked in various managerial positions with VP Market since 2001," he said.