A French multinational retail group, Carrefour, has finally opened a hypermarket in Armenia after more than a year of speculation about its “imminent” coming to the South Caucasus country.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and senior members of the Armenian government attended the ceremony at Yerevan Mall, a sprawling shopping center in the Armenian capital, on Wednesday.
The agreement between Carrefour and Yerevan Mall was signed still in May 2014 in the presence of President Sarkisian and French President Francois Hollande, who was on a visit to Armenia as part of his South Caucasus tour then.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony performed by Yerevan Mayor Taron Markarian and Carrefour Armenia Country Manager Christian De Nale, President Sarkisian and other officials took a tour of the place.
Carrefour had planned to launch its first Armenian store at another Yerevan shopping center, Dalma Garden, shortly after the latter opened its doors to customers in late 2012. However, those plans were put on hold for still unclear reasons. The French company then cited the need for further “research of the Armenian market.”
Reports in the Armenian press in 2013, however, accused a local businessman who owns a supermarket chain in Yerevan of using his close ties to the Armenian government to thwart Carrefour’s entry into Armenia. The businessman, Samvel Aleksanian, and the government denied that.
The Armenian government has insisted all along that it is interested in having the world-famous retailer set up its shop in Armenia, saying that its presence will send a positive signal to other foreign investors.