MOSCOW (Reuters) - Magnit, one of Russia's largest food retailers, said on Friday it had launched a range of ready-to-eat products at certain stores and could develop the project further with the construction of what it called "kitchen factories".
Magnit, which on Thursday reported a drop in quarterly net profit of 6%, is trying to close the gap on market leader X5 and finalised its purchase of rival Dixy earlier this month for 87.6 billion roubles ($1.2 billion).
The ready-to-eat project has been launched in two Russian cities, with around 40 items available at almost 50 stores, and Magnit said it would decide on expansion plans once the pilot was complete.
Ruslan Ismailov, Magnit's deputy CEO and director for retail chain management, said the retailer wanted to tap into the rapid rise in popularity of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook items and that it planned to ramp up its production capacities.
"We're also looking for alternative ways to develop the project, including, among other things, via construction of our own 'kitchen factories'," Ismailov said in a statement.
Russian food delivery services are exploring dark kitchens and stores, which bypass restaurants and high-street shops to cater directly to online customers, to meet growing demand.
Magnit said it planned to launch a new brand for its ready-to-eat range in the near future.
($1 = 72.9225 roubles)
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Anil D'Silva)