Carrefour

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Carrefour hypermarket opened in Yerevan Mall on March 11, 2015.

Carrefour Plans To Handle 5,000 Customers Daily

YEREVAN, March 11. / ARKA /. French retail hypermarket Carrefour that has opened a store in Yerevan today plans to handle about 5,000 customers daily, Christian de Nale, head of Carrefour Armenia said.

The official opening of the store in Yerevan Mall was attended by President Serzh Sargsyan.

"Our goods will be cheaper than those of our competitors. Besides, we will give preference to Armenian products, first of all foods. A look on our shelves is a proof of that," said de Nale.

He said the Carrefour store in Yerevan is cooperating with Armenian ministry of agriculture in order to sell Armenian goods through Carrefour stores around the world.

He said Carrefour plans to open more stores 'because a city like Yerevan needs several such hypermarkets.'

The agreement between Carrefour and Yerevan Mall was signed in May 2014 in the presence of President Sargsyan and French President Francois Hollande, who was on a visit to Armenia.

Carrefour SA is a French retail trade company, the world's second biggest chain of hypermarket after Wal-Mart.

According to the National Statistical Service, Armenia's trade with France in 2014 saw a 21 percent rise from the previous year to about $85 million. Armenian exports to France slashed by 23% to about $5 million, while imports surged by 24.3% to $79.8 million.-0-

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French Retail Giant To Set Up Shop In Armenia

Ruzanna Stepanian 20.02.2014

Carrefour S.A., a French multinational retail group, will open after all its first supermarket in Armenia later this year following a more than yearlong delay, it was announced on Thursday.

“In about six months we will be operational,” Christian Denal, a senior Carrefour executive, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) during the inauguration of a new shopping mall in Yerevan which is due to house the big food store.

“We are very happy to be present in Armenia for the benefit of all Armenian people and customers,” said Denal. “This is very important to us.”

The new shopping center, called Yerevan Mall, was inaugurated in the presence of President Serzh Sarkisian and other senior Armenian officials. Its executive director, Vazrik Sarkoyan, confirmed the impending opening of a Carrefour supermarket there, saying that it is scheduled for the third quarter of 2014. He said the French retail group, one of the largest in the world, will occupy one-sixth of the mall’s 60,000-square-meter commercial space.

Carrefour planned to launch its first Armenian store at another Yerevan mall, Dalma Garden, shortly after it opened its doors to customers in late 2012. However, those plans were put on hold for still unclear reasons. The French company cited the need for further “research of the Armenian market.”

Reports in the Armenian press last year accused Samvel Aleksanian, one of the country’s richest men, of using his close ties to the Armenian government and the Dalma Garden owner, Russian-Armenian billionaire Samvel Karapetian, to thwart Carrefour’s entry into the Armenian market. Both Aleksanian and the government denied that.

The government has insisted all along that it is interested in having the world-famous retailer set up shop in Armenia, saying that its presence will send a positive signal to other foreign investors.

Denal refused to be drawn on Carrefour’s reported problems with Dalma Garden. “Let’s talk about the future,” he said. “All Armenians are waiting for Carrefour and we will do everything in our power to satisfy them.”

Incidentally, Aleksanian, who owns one of Armenia’s largest supermarket chains called Yerevan City, was also present at the opening of the new mall. The government-linked tycoon declined to comment on Carrefour’s operations in the country. “I don’t engage in business,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Open For Business?: Debate Continues Over French Carrefour's Entry Into Armenian Market

BUSINESS | 02.04.13 | 15:48

By GAYANE MKRTCHYAN ArmeniaNow reporter

The potential expansion to Armenia by major "hypermarket" network Carrefour into the oligarchic and monopolized Armenian economy has raised heated discussions despite the government assurances that the legislative field in the country is favorable for foreign investment.

"The Republic of Armenia and the government are interested in Carrefour to be represented and start operating in the Armenian market to offer the kind of services it does all over the world. It is important for our economy in terms of formation of a competitive field, introduction of a new culture, a new type of institutes and infrastructures," stated Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan.

Management expert Harutyun Mesrobyan conditions the panic in the local business world over Carrefour's opening by several factors. He says, the oligarchic, monopolized economy is fearful, because it is always dealing with bureaucrats, the system, and always wants to have a "preferential" field. It takes over the market by non-market rules, and as a consequence it cannot be competitive.

"Of course, when any new major player joins the game, domestic economic entities have to be protected in our country, but not oligarchs. An oligarch should be put into this difficult position, so that it becomes obvious whether he is that tough in fact, or it's just a show-off," says Mesrobyan.

Le Cafe de Paris former owner Valerie Ashkhen Gortsunian, who was forced to sell her business because of the years-long unfavorable business conditions and leave for France, says that if one does not have a "back" among the authorities in Armenia, no business can be successful here.

The businesswoman says that in order to sustain a business in Armenia, one needs an insider in the Customs House to file bogus receipts and someone in the tax bureau to keep collectors away.

"The situation in Armenia is very dangerous and that's the reality, laws have no force in the country," she says.

Meanwhile, Vardan Ayvazyan, chairing the NA Standing Committee on Economic Issues, is amused over why Carrefour's introduction into Armenia is so politicized. After all, he says, the country's legislation does not prohibit a business's access to the country. The Republican MP is convinced that "the economy is on the right track" now in Armenia and that "monopolies are being overcome".

Karen Vardanyan, heading the Department for Business Environment Improvement at RA Ministry of Economy, says negotiations are in process with Carrefour representatives and most probably the world's second biggest retailer will have opened a branch in Armenia by the end of this year.

The speculations over Carrefour were initially sparked among public by signs at Dalma Gardens Mall (belonging to Russia-based Armenian businessman Samvel Karapetyan), announcing the network of shops, which later were removed. Further on, news appeared in the local press claiming that the authorities had decided to negotiate with Republican businessman Samvel Alexanyan and convince him to sell his Yerevan City supermarket chain to Carrefour.

"To my knowledge, Carrefour has asked for 35,000-40,000 square meters of space. I have heard that Alexanyan has expressed willingness to sell his premises," says Ayvazyan.

News.am local daily reports that Alexanyan claimed he himself had no business but that he was aware that his family business was offered for sale to Carrefour. The word goes among local media, however, that Samvel Karapetyan suspended the Carrefour deal and that it was allegedly done largely due to Alexanyan's rather productive efforts.

The Carrefour issue was discussed in March at a meeting between Armenian Vice-Premier, minister of territorial administration Armen Gevorgyan, during his working visit to the United Arab Emirates, and Arab Majid Al Futtaim company leadership. (Majid Al Futtaim is a leading company in the Middle East and South Africa specialized in running multi-functional complex shopping and entertainment centers.

In that region it is French Carrefour hypermarket chain's licensed partner.)

Vice-premier Gevorgyan says Carrefour would not only offer new-quality services in Armenia, but would also enable domestic agricultural and processed products to exit into the world market through its huge network as a hypermarket.

US Ambassador in Armenia John Heffern made a related twitter post: "Hear Carrefour wants to open in Yerevan. I used to shop there in Brussels. Would be good for competition here. Hope it happens," he wrote.