Russian food retailer VkusVill plans stores in Netherlands, France

MOSCOW, March 3 (Reuters) - VkusVill, a fast growing Russian supermarket chain with revenues of more than $1.3 billion in 2019, plans to open a store in the Netherlands within weeks and later in France as it considers a future initial public offering (IPO) in New York.

Founder Andrey Krivenko said on Tuesday that VkusVill, which on average opens two new stores in Russia every working day, hopes to open its doors in the Netherlands, most likely in Amsterdam, this spring, selling food from local producers as it does in Russia.

VkusVill, which roughly translates as “Taste Town”, has already registered a legal entity in the Netherlands and is currently studying the French market with a view to opening in Paris, Krivenko told Reuters.

Krivenko started selling fresh dairy products a decade ago and his chain now positions itself as a neighbourhood distributor of affordable fresh food through supermarkets and self-checkout micromarkets.

The recent coronavirus outbreak has so far not had an impact on VkusVill’s business as the company sells a negligibly small amount of products from China, Krivenko said, adding that he was also studying the possibility of selling products with a longer shelf life in China.

Asked about an earlier plan by the company to list in the United States, Krivenko said the company was still looking at such a possibility.

“We are planning to make a decision in early autumn whether we are going to carry out an IPO or not,” Krivenko said.

VkusVill has already hired a public relations consultant in the United States and started working with U.S. banks, preparing for the possible IPO, a financial market source familiar with the company’s plans told Reuters previously.

The most likely timing for the IPO would be spring 2021, said the source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

VkusVill gave one indication it was planning to list its shares by publishing financial highlights for 2019 earlier this year, something not required of privately-held companies.

The company said revenues from its more than 1,200 convenience store were more than $1.3 billion last year, boasting of “explosive growth” which it said was financed by operating cash flow and without any loans. Asked about its revenue forecast for 2020, Krivenko said his company does not disclose future sales figures. (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)