(AFP) -

Russian energy giant Gazprom is set to open a chain of supermarkets which would become the country's fifth-biggest food retailer, the Kommersant daily reported on Monday.

The chain would be formed on the basis of 400 stores and cafeterias which presently serve only Gazprom employees, the newspaper said, citing a company which is organising the rebranding campaign.

"The plan was to further expand the chain by opening new sites," Irina Vedenetskaya, executive director of the Coruna branding agency, told Kommersant in an article headlined "Gaz-food."

Vedenetskaya said her agency had worked out a rebranding campaign where the company stores would become a chain called "Naraskhvat," a Russian expression which can be translated as "to sell like hot cakes."

Most of the stores are in Siberia, where the state-controlled gas giant has its biggest gas fields and processing plants, Kommersant said.

At 400 stores the chain would become the fifth-largest food retailer in Russia in terms of number of locations, the newspaper said.

Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer, has numerous assets outside of its core business of gas production, including television channels and cinemas.