>>McDonalds is, apparently, sizing up Kazakhstan for business
STORY: Kazakhstan’s mid-range retail and dining sectors have boomed in the past few years; the shopping options available in Almaty more and more resemble most Western cities.
Last year, Almaty’s Soviet-era department store re-opened after an overhaul. It now features an outlet of British high-street store Marks & Spencer, among others. Just around the corner from Marks & Spencer, Kazakh teenagers can now munch on burgers at the newly opened Burger King.
One notable absentee from this overhaul is the golden arches of McDonalds, America’s ubiquitous fast food restaurant.
McDonalds outlets span the globe and its opening in Moscow in 1990 was considered a seminal point in the country’s retail history.
Kazakhs, though, still have to travel abroad if they want to order a Big Mac.
The reasons are convoluted. Analysts have previously touted the vast distances in Kazakhstan and the problems with finding a quality local franchise partner.
Now, Beknur Kissikov, president of the Eurasian Franchising Association, has said that McDonalds is considering entering Kazakhstan (March 18).
“The talks are currently in process; we have several businessmen ready to do this,” the Tengrinews website quoted Mr Kissikov as saying.
McDonalds has not commented and caution is needed. Rumours have circulated for years that McDonalds will open in Kazakhstan.
Even so, Kazakhstan’s high-streets and shopping malls are becoming increasingly crowded. McDonalds, and others still standing on the sidelines, must surely follow soon.
This story was first published on March 22 2013 in issue 50 of the weekly Silk Road Intelligencer. To subscribe to the newssheet, click here