France’s Carrefour is closing its Almaty hypermarket in Kazakhstan just 15 months after opening it, the company said in a statement on May 30 blaming poor market conditions.
The opening of the Carrefour store marked the arrival of the first truly global retail chain to Kazakhstan. Even Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev visited the store. The visit was shown on TV to illustrate an image of progress in the country amid economic troubles caused by the oil price slump that hit the pockets and livelihoods of ordinary Kazakhs.
The shutting down of the store thus creates a rather negative image in contrast to the big deal made of the opening last year. It also signals to other international retail chains that there might not be a viable market place for them in the Central Asian country.
The latest retail sales data from the State Statistics Committee shows that sales moved up 5.5% y/y in January-March to KZT1.77tn ($5.23bn).
The gain reflected a continuation of the household consumption recovery that took place as the Kazakh tenge stabilised in the second half of 2016. That followed the currency's sharp depreciation in the second half of 2015, which caused prices of imported goods to jump.
Non-foodstuffs accounted for 65.8% of overall retail trade in the three-month period, and grew by 9.7% y/y, while trade in foodstuffs fell by by 2.2% y/y.
Carrefour is represented in Kazakhstan by Majid Al Futtaim, which has an exclusive franchise for the Carrefour brand in the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
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