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Retail Chains in Kazakhstan Accused of Lobbying for Foreign Goods

Foreign retail companies continue to push the local market

Photo: Askar Akhmetullin

The vast majority of goods that various retail chains sell in Kazakhstan were made abroad, Bakhyt Sultanov, head of the Kazakhstani Ministry of Trade and Integration, said at the government session on March 2.

“We must not forget about the trends that contribute to the development of trade, both on its external and internal contours. In the domestic market, there is an expansion of foreign retail chains. On the shelves of foreign retail chains, the lion's share is occupied by goods from their country of origin,” he said when presenting the draft concept of the national program on trade development for the years 2021 to 2025.

According to Sultanov, a very high level of foreign retail chain activity is fed by a lack of discounters as well as the weakness of retailers outside large cities like Almaty and Nur-Sultan.

The minister states that the number of foreign goods in local stores rose in recent years. “These are mainly low-quality goods, which affects the quality of life of our citizens.”

However, Kazakhstani goods that are exported abroad are not broad spectrum. The lack of effective ways to promote domestic products and services in the foreign markets, as well as other barriers, burden access of the local exporters to markets abroad.

Sultanov believes if Kazakhstan closes all gaps in supply chains from production to sales, a cohesive trade system might be created.

By 2025 the ministry of trade plans to achieve seven macro indicators, including a reduction of the grey economy (up to 31% in gross added value); an increase of national standards implementation up to 75%; and growth of non-resource export of goods and services up to $41 billion.

This draft concept should be agreed on by July 1.


Food Delivery Business Booms in Kazakhstan

Many people want to minimize personal contacts during the quarantine

Photo: Ofeliya Zhakaeva

Two Kazakhstani cities, Nur-Sultan and Almaty, are now under quarantine. All cafes and restaurants are obliged to work with food delivery services. This market rose exponentially after an emergency was declared amid the global coronavirus pandemic, with people wanting to reduce any social contact.

Food is in priority 

For now, the only food market driver is through delivery, with the number of orders increasing by three to four times in recent days. On March 15 Arbuz.kz, a food delivery service, found itself in a situation where it needs many more refrigerator trucks, says Aleksey Lee, CEO of Arbuz.kz. He refused to specify an exact number of trucks because the situation changes very fast.

The company hired new staff for its call center, with employees in the call center working 14 to 16 hours per day. At the moment they just receive and process orders, so the obligation to keep client relations was temporarily transferred to delivery men. 

To protect staff, the company provided personnel with masks; regular medical check-ups are also underway. If the client pays online, the delivery is made without any contact; a delivery man just sets the product on the floor, knocks on the door and leaves. Cars that are used for delivery should be cleaned after each route. 

The delivery zone is expanded

According to Chocofood.kz, the increase in the orders is medium. Nikolay Sherbakov, the company CEO, said that some of his employees work distantly. All orders paid online are delivered without contact with clients. In this company, delivery personnel are also provided with medical masks as well as sanitizers for hands and their delivery bags. 

Because of lack of sanitizers on the market, the company produces them on its own. While national currency is devalued, the public food industry doesn’t work and food delivery demand rises, the prices might also go up, Sherbakov said. So far Chocofood.kz sees a flurry of orders and tries to support the stable work of all business processes.

“To make delivery from as many restaurants as we can to the maximum number of clients, that is our current goal,” the Chocofood.kz CEO says. To achieve this goal, their delivery zone was expanded, thanks to no traffic jams on the roads.

No subscription any more

International delivery service Glovo is expanding the line of products it can carry including restaurant meals, grocery food, medicine, and mail.

If Glovo clients do not want to contact the delivery man, they have to pay online and make a proper comment in the service application. Delivery will be made in a door-to-door manner and the carrier just makes a call; no client’s signature is needed. As the company representative noted, if the situation with COVID-19 worsens, the option to pay by cash might be deleted from the application.

Again, Glovo carriers have all needed sanitizers, masks, and gloves. Moreover, delivery personnel are obliged to clean their bags with alcohol-based sanitizers.