Coming soon: sportswear for dogs

X5, the Russian food retailer controlled by Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group, has won a tender for rights to market official merchandise for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The prestigious deal may boost the appeal of X5’s grocery stores but probably comes too late to prevent the London-listed retailer from being overtaken by its fast growing rival Magnit in the battle for sales. Read more

For the Russian retail sector, 2012 was the tale of two rival grocers. And there is one that clearly prevailed.

Over the past 12 months, Magnit has cemented its position as one of investors’ favourite Russian blue chip thanks to high single-digit earnings margins – leaving little love for competitor X5. Read more

Most businessmen would be glad to be compared to Sam Walton, the US retail visionary who founded Walmart. Not Sergei Galitsky, the billionaire chairman and chief executive of Magnit, the Russian grocery chain. He thinks the flattery goes too far.

For a start, Magnit, although Russia’s biggest food retailer by stores and growing at breakneck speed, will never match Walmart in scope or size, he says. And Galitsky has no plans to follow the US multinational’s example and take his company global. Read more

Magnit, Russia’s second biggest food retailer, has decided to diversify into market gardening in a move that might test its reputation for good logistics. The plan, announced as X5, Magnit’s larger rival, reported lacklustre financial second quarter results, highlights the pressure Russian food retailers are under to cut costs and generate profits. Read more

One of the founders of X5, Russia’s top food retailer, has decided to leave his job after disappointing results and warnings that the days of dizzy sales growth are over.

X5, which has built a network of more than 3,000 food stores from scratch since 1998, like any highly successful start-up, has become just too big to continue growing so fast. But the slowdown is worrying investors who have seen X5 as one of the few non-resource companies in Russia worth putting their money in. Read more