Business | 30.01.13 | 13:04

By Siranuysh Gevorgyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

Europe's largest supermarket chain owner Carrefour is still studying
the Armenian market. Despite expectations in Yerevan that already this
year the Armenian capital would get an international supermarket, the
French multinational retailer's representatives have indicated that it
could take another year before the company enters Armenia.

The French Carrefour supermarket chain has space in the newly opened
Dalma Garden Mall in Yerevan where the signs on the doors of what
looks like a supermarket space read since October: "Opening Soon". As
the opening of the supermarket has not taken place to date (and
especially since in neighboring Georgia Carrefour already opened its
supermarket in September) the Armenian media began to speculate that
its opening is hampered by local oligarchs. According to some press
reports, due to its much cheaper products and import of own goods
Carrefour's presence would take a bite out of the businesses of local
importing and retail trade businesses, in particular the Yerevan City
supermarket chain owned by government-linked MP Samvel Alexanyan.

The opposition Haykakan Zhamanak daily wrote last week that according
to its reliable information, senior Carrefour representatives have for
a long time tried to meet the highest leadership of Armenia, but have
not succeeded in doing that yet.

"Our [leadership] finds pretexts for not meeting Carrefour
representatives, saying it is now a presidential election, that
[President] Serzh Sargsyan and [Prime Minister] Tigran Sargsyan are
very busy. But delaying meetings with Carrefour representatives is
actually connected with the fact that they cannot answer their
questions yet," writes the newspaper.

This publication was followed by a story in, claiming that
instead of Carrefour, Dalma Gardens Mall will have another Yerevan
City store.

In reply to a written inquiry of ArmeniaNow, a Carrefour Group press
officer said that "in line with its strategy of developing the
Carrefour brand, the Majid Al Futtaim group continues to analyze the
Armenian market and aims to open its first store in the next 12

The company that belongs to Arab billionaire Majid Al Futtaim and
bears his name is developing the Carrefour brand in the Middle East
and Central Asia.

Economic commentator Armenak Chatinyan told ArmeniaNow that
Carrefour's entrance will certainly bring in more competition to the
Armenian market.

"The entrance of any such big brand will in a certain way liven up
competition, but the thing is that one of our large companies
[referring to Alexanyan's company] is working in not such a clean tax
environment. It is not clear how long Carrefour will be able to
compete in such conditions, but if such a brand is coming, it is not
ruled out that they may have prior arrangements with the authorities,"
says Chatinyan.

Companies owned by Alexanyan's extended family have repeatedly denied
having any privileged position on the market., citing its own sources, writes that besides Dalma Gardens
Mall Carrefour also plans opening two more hypermarkets in Yerevan -
one near the Hayranik Cinema House in Arshakunyats Avenue and the
other on the Yerevan-Sevan highway.

From: A. Papazian