Russian retailer Azbuka Vkusa to double business, consider IPO

MOSCOW, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Russian privately-held upscale supermarket chain Azbuka Vkusa may consider an initial public offering (IPO) in a few years’ time once it has doubled its business, the chief executive said.

Financial market and banking sources told Reuters the company had recently met investors and talked about the prospects of a share listing. It had already considered holding an IPO before the Ukraine crisis, one of the sources said.

“We will consider this possibility in a few years, it will be definitely after ... 2019. We need to almost double (the business) to be of interest to investors,” Vladimir Sadovin, the company’s CEO and minority shareholder, told Reuters.

“We are talking to investors, putting a toe in the water in order to receive feedback,” Sadovin said in a phone interview.

The company could double its business within five years, he said, without giving details of a growth strategy.

Azbuka Vkusa, which stands for “The A to Z of Taste”, is targeting middle- and high-income consumers. It has around 130 stores in and around Moscow, Russia’s most affluent retail market, and a few in the second-biggest city of St Petersburg.

The company increased sales by 9.6 percent in 2016 to about 50 billion roubles ($859.25 million), according to a presentation published on the company’s website.

Russia’s top food retailers X5 and Magnit turned over 1 trillion roubles last year, Dixy made 311 billion roubles and Lenta 306 billion roubles.

Azbuka Vkusa is 46 percent owned by its founders. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Millhouse and investment firm Invest AG together own a 37 percent stake.

$1 = 58.1900 roubles Reporting by Olga Sichkar; Additional reporting by Olga Popova and Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Edmund Blair