We wanted to check out the new Carrefour supermarket on our weekly grocery shopping trip yesterday. It is another sign of the economic growth of Uzbekistan and Tashkent that an international chain opened such a large store. Majid Al Futtaim, the Emirati billionaire is behind the project. He opened Carrefour franchises all over the Middle East (over 30 countries). This store is on the ground floor of the former Media Mart complex (an electronics and home appliance store). Media Mart moved to the second floor. I heard there will be other Carrefour outlets opening in the city. Carrefour is originally from France and brought the concept of the “hyper market” / department store under one roof to France in the 1960s. I think it is a slightly more upscale and smaller version of Walmart.
Nadia loves supermarkets and when we visit countries, one of our mandatory stops is to see what is available in the grocery stores. She found some speciality items that can’t be found in the local supermarkets. We both felt that the local supermarkets, Makro and Korzinka, compare favorably to Carrefour. We will continue to do most of our shopping at the local supermarkets and Mirobad bazaar. Carrefour offers free WiFi and several deli-like venues, such as a cheese-slicing (it is French, of course), crepes, bread and somsas, even a sushi stand. It has a long way to go to reach the level of a Trader Joes, Wegmans or Whole Foods in the USA. However, they do bring some new ideas in retail to the city and an international perspective, which is beneficial to Uzbek culture.
The young Uzbek employees seemed proud to be working for an international company. We were able to use our international credit card easily and they even gifted us two recyclable Carrefour shopping bags.