MIAMI — The Russian retailers who once envisioned operating a chain of hundreds of small discount stores under the Okey-Dokey Grocery banner in Florida have pulled the plug on the project.
Okey-Dokey earlier this month moved to close all 11 of its operating stores and will back out of “40 or 50” deals to open new stores, local sources told SN. Its parent company, known as AgroTrade America, also last week filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification with state authorities, saying it intended to lay off 157 workers in early August.
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Company officials did not respond to requests for comment. A local real estate source told SN he was informed of the retailer’s closure plans in an email sent by company officials earlier this month. He said Okey-Dokey is now looking for businesses to sublease its stores, which measured about 4,500 to 7,500 square feet, and a 130,000-square-foot distribution center in Medeley, Fla.
AgroTrade was founded in 2011 by the founders of Russia’s X5 Retail Group, including the discount chain Pyaterochka and the Karusel chain of hypermarkets. The company said it was backed by a $500 million investment from private Dutch investors and envisioned building a chain of 400 stores with $1 billion in sales within four years.
Read more: Okey-Dokey Accelerates Store Openings
Its first stores opened less than a year ago around the Miami area, but local sources described a difficult time introducing its concept to the market. Okey-Dokey stores featured a limited assortment of branded grocery items with an emphasis on sharp pricing and convenient locations.
The chain operated as many as 13 stores in May.
“I think they came out too quickly and looked a little disorganized,” one source said. “To me, it looked like they didn’t have a set plan to penetrate the market.”
“By their financial backing alone you’d figure they had the backing to weather some storms, so the picture coming in appeared pretty grand,” added Jose Tamez, an executive recruiter with Austin Michaels, Denver. “But I think they made a mistake in looking to fill what they saw as a void, rather than filling a need.”
AgroTrade let go several executives last month, sources told SN.
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