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Okey-Dokey Sets Sept. Debut

MIAMI — The first of a planned chain of small discount food stores under the Okey-Dokey banner are set to open Sept. 1 here, marking the U.S. debut of the Russian retailer behind Europe’s X-5 Retail Group, SN has learned.

A spokesman for Agro-Trade International told SN last week the group planned to open between eight and 12 stores this year, followed by 50 stores a year beginning in 2013. Agro-Trade is headed by Andrey Rogachyov, the Russian billionaire behind X-5’s Pyaterochka discount chain and the Karusel chain of hypermarkets. Both X-5 and Agro-Trade are supported by a Netherlands-based private equity concern.

Agro-Trade said the U.S. rollout represents a $500 million investment.

Related story: Okey-Dokey: Russian Retailer Eyes Florida

Okey-Dokey has been something of a mystery to the industry since word of its intentions to build a chain got out early this year. Real estate sources in Florida told SN the company has been actively looking for sites, and the company has established a presence on employment websites, but it had made no public pronouncements until responding to SN’s queries last week.

Roy Sartin, director of people development for Agro-Trade, said the company would reveal specific locations later this summer but said the first stores would open in metro Miami, Opa-Locka and North Miami Beach. “In addition, we will also operate multiple stores in the Broward County [area], in areas such as Tamarac, Plantation, and Lauderhill,” Sartin added.

As previously reported in SN, Okey-Dokey stores will be no larger than 7,500 square feet and offer approximately 3,500 SKUs. Stores will be driven by an EDLP strategy. The product mix will include fresh produce; pre-packaged fish, meats and poultry; and dry groceries including beer wine and liquor. Stores will stock a mix of national and private brands, with plans to eventually sell 50% private brands.

The website redirects browsers to a Career Builder page seeking employees. “The Greater Miami/Ft. Lauderdale metropolis with the thrifty shopper, the population of 18 million and almost non-existent discounter competition provides for a large scale and profitable testing ground for the nationwide rollout,” the site states.

Sartin said the company was developing its website now, and when it launches it would include addresses of its stores. He declined to immediately disclose the names of its executives.

“In November 2011, the company’s [headquarters] were established by a group of senior executives which had successfully started and developed two nationwide retail distribution chains in Europe,” he said.

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