EBRD invested €5 million in the first Auchan franchise in Central Asia
Tajikistan’s first hypermarket opened on Tuesday in the country’s capital, Dushanbe, providing its customers with high-quality produce, greater choice and western standards of hygiene and logistics.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon inaugurated the 5,000m2 Auchan hypermarket, which has the support of financing from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The discount hypermarket will be operated by Schiever Tajikistan, a subsidiary of the French Schiever Group, which holds the Auchan franchise in the mountainous country of eight million people in Central Asia, on the border with Afghanistan and China.
Schiever Tajikistan’s General Manager Frédéric Lobbé said: “This opening represents a revolution for Tajikistan. Our Auchan hypermarket will be a popular store for everyone, offering a large choice of quality products at affordable prices. It is going to improve the country’s food security.”
The new store is also the first Auchan hypermarket in the whole of Central Asia.
The EBRD invested €5 million in the project with a long-term loan and an equity investment to become a minority shareholder in Schiever Tajikistan.
The EBRD was represented at the opening ceremony by Richard Jones, Director, Head of EBRD operations in Tajikistan. He said: “This is a hugely important project. Offering quality products at discount prices, Auchan has already struck contracts with more than 200 local suppliers, setting the foundations for a new stage in the development of agri-food value chains and exports. The determination of Schiever’s management to take this ground-breaking project beyond today’s opening offers a powerful demonstration of the positive impact of foreign investment: setting new industry standards, enhancing transparency, creating some 400 jobs and bringing direct benefits to consumers.”
At first, Schiever Tajikistan plans to import the majority of food articles from Russia, where Auchan is a leading retailer. Over time, with help from the EBRD's agribusiness advisory services, the company aims to develop links with Tajik farmers to source more and more products locally and work on the possibility of exporting Tajik agricultural products to Russia.
With projects like this the EBRD aims to realise its strategic priorities, among which are regional economic cooperation, strengthening economic resilience and ensuring food security.
Gilles Mettetal, EBRD Managing Director for Industry, Commerce and Agribusiness, said: “The opening of Tajikistan’s first hypermarket is an important step towards strengthening the country’s food value chain, while also raising hygiene standards in the retail industry and improving shopping conditions for the population. We believe that Auchan will boost the local economy and create jobs, for the benefit of the agribusiness sector and the country as a whole.”
To date, the EBRD has invested €578 million in various sectors of Tajikistan's economy in more than 100 projects. Supporting modern agriculture and food production via increased access to financing and advisory services is one of the Bank's priorities in the country.