Finnish department store retailer Stockmann Group is to pull its Lindex fashion chain out of Russia, citing the insecure outlook for the market, by closing 19 of the brand's stores across the country.

In addition, Stockmann plans to close four of its namesake department stores by the end of 2016, three of which are located in Moscow, leaving just two department stores remaining in the capital.

With the recent political unrest in Russia, some European companies have reassessed their position in the country. While German sportswear giant Adidas has significantly scaled back its store openings and is to increase the number of store closures, UK fashion retailer New Look exited the market last year.

Nonetheless, Stockmann says it will focus on strengthening its Lindex operations in its main markets while expanding in others, with the first UK store opening in London in March of this year.

The move is part of an effort to streamline its operations through an efficiency programme that aims to save EUR50m (US$56m) annually. Consequently, the group is also considering closing its department store in Oulu, Northern Finland, which currently employs 230 staff, as the lease expires in 2017.

Stockmann says the efficiency programme does not include any sales staff reductions in its continuing department stores.

However, as part of the programme, Stockmann is also reviewing its support functions. The savings measures from these are expected to be specified during the spring. Additionally, the group plans to centralise warehouse operations at a single new distribution centre in 2016.

In October, the group's Seppälä apparel division cut 380 jobs, followed by a further 70 in December. The Seppälä brand will be pulled from the Latvian and Lithuanian markets entirely over the course of this year as part of a company-wide strategic review.

The effects of the programme will be reflected in Stockmann's earnings in the beginning of 2016, with the total targeted cost savings impact expected by the end of that year.

Separately, Stockmann's January sales fell to EUR19.4m, a drop of 5.7% year-on-year at comparable exchange rates.