Russian retailer Dixy Group is to close its VMart convenience stores in St Petersburg, the company announced today (4 March).

The decision to discontinue the VMart format is, the company said, one of the steps taken to "optimise costs and increase effectiveness".

Dixy's management decided that further development of the VMart format is no longer viable in the current economic conditions.

Since 2007, Dixy has opened 12 VMart stores, which are all situated St Petersburg. Retail revenue from Vmart was RUR241m (US$9.7m) in 2008, or just 0.5% of Dixy's consolidated sales.

The company said it plans to employ the existing 200 staff of VMart stores in the new Dixy stores scheduled to open this year.

"In 2009, we will focus on our most popular and promising format which is [our] Dixy discounter stores," said president Ilya Yakubson. 

"While the company plans to open at least 100 Dixy stores in 2009, our strategic priority for 2009 is operational efficiency improvement, rather than extensive growth. In the frame of this strategy we might be closing some stores that are not performing well."