Baltic grocery retailers scramble to open up new stores

  • 2005-12-21
  • Staff and wire reports
RIGA - The intense competition between Baltic retailers seems to know no end, with leading competitors opening up new stores and a Finnish player, SOK, announcing that it was planning to enter the Latvian market next year.
SOK said it planned to open three to four Prisma supermarkets in Latvia in three years time and was investing some 50 million euros in the project. Director Arttu Laine said that the company wants to become a market leader in Latvia and would open up to 10 supermarkets in the future to accomplish its goal.

The first Prisma supermarket is scheduled to open next fall in the Domina shopping center, where it will replace a Maxima store of the VP Market retail giant. The store will sell around 60,000 various goods, with food products accounting for some 70 percent. In Laine's words, the supermarket will target families and offer relatively cheap goods.

As a rapidly growing company, SOK wants to enter the Latvian market where it sees good prospects for developing its Prisma chain. The company predicts that in the future there will be three to five supermarket chains in the Baltics, with Prisma being one of them, Laine said.

Laine did not rule out the possibility that SOK might also expand to Latvia's hotel business and various regions of the country.

For its part, VP Market, the Baltics' largest retailer, opened a new shopping center 's Maxima Baze in Kaunas 's and two centers in Klaipeda, including the upgraded center Hyper Maxima XXX and new store Maxima XX.

Investments into the shopping center, which includes a parking lot for 500 cars, amounted to 30 million litas (8.7 million euros). Hyper Maxima XXX, which covers a total area of 13,600 square meters, has been set out in the Klaipeda Akropolis mall. Investments amounted to some 1 million litas, while the construction of Maxima XX, which covers an area of 2,000 square meters, ate up almost 10 million litas, the company said.

Meanwhile, Rimi Baltic, a joint venture between Finland's Kesko and Sweden's ICA, opened yet a new Supernetto outlet in Mazeikiai, its 10th discount store in Lithuania. The chain now operates 94 discount stores in all three Baltic countries 's including 21 Rimi Supermarkets and 7 Rimi Hypermarkets.

VP Market currently operates over 330 shopping centers in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria.

SOK, a Finnish company established in 1904, is a part of the S Group operating in trade, fuel sales, hotel business, car dealing and agriculture. It already has several Prisma stores in Tallinn and 46 supermarkets, as well as several hundred smaller stores, in Finland.