To meet the brand’s growing demand, Georgian sunflower seed company Solari is expanding its product portfolio with packaged almonds and peanuts for snacking for the local and export markets.
General Director of Solari, Iuri Tkebuchava, told Golden Brand that product testing started in May, and if the new products prove their viability they will be sold on the local market and later on the European.
“Hopefully our new products, like the traditional, will also satisfy customers, and we will occupy a worthy place in the Georgian market, giving us incentive to enter the European market," Tkebuchava said.
In the meantime Solari produces three types of sunflower seeds – roasted; salty roasted; and
shelled, roasted seeds. The company uses locally produced raw materials.
Solari has been operating on the Georgian market since 2014, when it first introduced roasted sunflower seeds.
Q. In order to produce a new line of products Solari has acquired a new factory, which would be the second in Tbilisi. Is the factory currently operational?
A. The space was not in accordance with the standards and useful for the purpose for which the company needed it, so we had to do a lot of construction and repair. At the moment, 80% of that work has been completed.
We have installed a cold storage area for storing products, arranged communications both on the internal and external perimeter, rigged up production elevators, etc. Based on the scale of the space, by the end of the year it should be done and ready for expanded operations.
Q. The company has also started preparatory work for obtaining the ISO certificate. What work do you have to do to get this?
A. We're in the process of obtaining the ISO international certificate.
We've brought hygiene and food safety in line with international requirements in the company's main factory. We also had to upgrade equipment. We think we'll have certification by the end of the year.
Q. The ISO certificate would also bring you closer to export to European markets. Have you already started negotiations with those countries?
A. Our team has set a goal to enter the European market, which means moving to European standards in all areas - quality of raw materials, production equipment, the technical side, and many more details. We are in negotiations with foreign exporters, who expect to receive from Solari competitive products made with Georgian raw materials.
Q. What are some recent developments at the company?
A. I would call them “challenges” rather than “developments”.
The import of raw materials from Ukraine was interrupted due to well-known events. The company was completely reset, returning to the Russian market. The export of raw materials from Russia has brought a number of difficulties recently, because the Russian government imposed a high export tax on sunflowers - 50% instead of ~6.5%. Basically, logistics have become much more difficult and time-consuming. However, with the team work and common efforts of the company, we have gradually overcome these problems and the supply is currently experiencing no delays .
For its traditional Austrian quality, a variety of choice and the best taste, Austrian meat product brand Schirnhofer has firmly established itself on the Georgian market.
Lasha Babuadze, Founder of Everest 2010, a distribution company that imports Schirnhofer to Georgia, told Golden Brand that for years Schirnhofer's products have occupied first place among sausages and meat products imported to the country.
This year again Schirnhofer has been named Georgian customers’ favorite meat product brand in a survey that involved more than 2,000 consumers and 100 experts. Babuadze said winning Georgia’s most prestigious and influential business award, the Golden Brand, was gratifying for the company as the idea had always been to offer the local market the best quality meat products, and “our efforts have been appreciated by customers.”
“Schirnhofer's products have long been loved by Georgian consumers. And double-digit sales figures also prove it,”
Currently, there are seven stores operating under the brand of Schirnhofer in Georgia, offering customers Austrian meat delicacies, cheese, and cookies made with Austrian technology.
“Besides offering the sausages for which it is known, an Austrian cheese and meat delicatessen can also be found in our stores, and an assortment of freshly baked bread made from Austrian flour in the Austrian style. Delicious sandwiches, pizza, hot dogs and everything that is needed for any family is also available at our store,” Babuadze said.
Q. Could you please tell us what makes Schirnhofer meat products so unique and popular among Georgian customers?
A. With almost a century-old tradition of producing over 600 varieties of meat products, Schirnhofer is one of the largest Austrian meat product manufacturers, producing 12,000 tons of meat and sausage products per year, using only Austrian meat for production.
The company’s head office is located in Kaindorf, Austria, which is considered one of the safest ecologically. Schirnhofer has 630 partner farmers. Its strict quality control begins at each of these farms. Quality control is paramount at every stage of production, and Schirnhofer uses ultra-modern technologies and laboratories. Schirnhofer holds an IFC (International Food Standard) certificate, which ensures product quality control.
Schirnhofer was founded in 1926 by Joseph Schirnhofer. The family business was carried on by his son Karl, who began producing sausages in 1950 with his mother. Soon the company became one of the largest Austrian meat product manufacturers.
Karl Shirnhofer himself was a founder of the Schirnhofer Company in Georgia, which entered the Georgian market in 2007 and quickly gained popularity among customers for its affordability, variety, and top quality products.
Q. How many products are sold at Schirnhofer stores in Georgia?
A. There are more than fifty varieties of meat delicacies and more than ten varieties of Austrian cheese available at Schirnhofer stores.
We also bake about twenty types of bread with Austrian raw materials and recipes.
The Schirnhofer cafeteria, which is open at every Schirnhofer store in Tbilisi, is very popular. At our stores you can have hot dogs, pizza, fried potatoes, onion and squid rings.
Schirnhofer branches will prepare delicious sandwiches to suit your taste.
Q. As far as meat products, what is the favorite of Georgian consumers?
A. For its quality and taste (although the products are not cheap for objective reasons) Schirnhofer meat products are very popular and in demand among Georgian consumers.
I would single out baked goods with Austrian raw materials and recipes. The demand for this type of product is increasing each year.
Q. Have sales increased over the years in Georgia?
A. Like all other businesses, the last two years have been very difficult for us too. A pandemic, global logistics problems, increase in transport and product prices, inflation problems — all these factors affected our business as well.
Unfortunately, this was compounded by the completely unjustified and unacceptable Russian invasion and occupation of independent Ukraine.
Despite these challenges, our team tries its best to keep products affordable to customers.
Q. How would you characterize the Georgian market and its competitive environment?
A. The Georgian market for sausages and meat products is saturated and thus highly competitive.
But we are not afraid of healthy competition. Our main trump card is the high European quality of these traditional products and the high standard of service in the stores.
Q. Schirnhofer has won its second Golden Brand award. How did the brand achieve this success?
A. It is a pleasure to receive any award. Especially when you put so much effort and energy into the work.
Our success is due to the traditional Austrian quality of Schirnhofer meat and bakery products and European standards of service, which our team have been trying to maintain for years.
Shiraqi, a Georgian producer of dairy products, is planning to expand its line with new products such as yogurt, matsoni (strained sour milk similar to yogurt), dambalkhacho (made from buttermilk cottage cheese), aged cheese and other varieties of milk products.
Founder of Shiraqi Nikoloz Beniaidze told us that the company has a “great desire” to create a Cheese Museum in the country, “where master classes on cheese and tasting events will be held,” he said.
Currently the company produces fifteen raw milk products — sulguni, smoked sulguni, Imeruli cheese Extra, Georgian Cheese, twisted cheese, smoked twisted cheese, sulguni sticks, smoked sulguni sticks, matsoni, cottage cheese, ghee, butter Glekhura.
Dairy products under the brand of Shiraqi are sold not only locally but on export markets as well. Today, Shiraqi cheese and sour cream is sold in Singapore, Dubai, France, the USA, and Bahrain.
Beniaidze said that Shiraqi is working to expand its exports, with Canada and Israel showing interest in Georgian produce.
The company processes up to ten tons of raw milk per day, of which 15-20% is exported. Shiraqi exports about forty tons of products per year.
Q. Shiraqi won the Golden Brand in the category “favorite cheese producer”. What does this recognition mean to the company?
A. The whole Shiraqi team works hard every day to create a complete cycle "from field to table" to deliver the highest quality raw milk products to the consumer. For us, for the whole team, this award is appreciation and recognition of our work.
It is more gratifying to see that the company’s hard work done last year is appreciated this year. And I want to tell you that 2022 was quite challenging for Shiraqi. Due to a shortage of raw milk, it was difficult for us to meet the demand for raw milk products for some time, but we successfully overcame this obstacle and even became a recognized producer company this year.
Q. How has Shiraqi been developing on the Georgian market over the years?
A. Founded in 2006, Shiraqi was first involved in milk collection and over the years has grown into a large producer of dairy products. This success was based on the experience and knowledge of my and our company’s employees in various training programs that we did in Europe and America. Successful and growing farms I saw abroad had a great impact on my plans. In 2013, we laid the foundation on the Shiraqi farm.
Q. Please introduce us to the whole production cycle of Shiraqi, as you said — “from field to table”.
A. We produce Shiraqi raw milk products with 100% local raw milk.
We have our own dairy farm of high-yielding Holstein cattle, who are fed mainly with food grown in our farm. We also collect milk and import raw milk from other high-yielding dairy farms.
We have raw milk collection points in Kakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions.
Q. Golden Brand survey showed Shiraqi is Georgian customers’ favorite cheese producing company, but what are the best-selling products according to sales data?
A. Imeruli cheese Extra and sulguni, Georgian Cheese, smoked sulguni, matsoni, cottage cheese are among the top-selling products of Shiraqi.
Speaking of sulguni, I want to mention that Shiraqi sulguni was the winner at the blind tasting of EBIARD/FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture in 2018, 2019 and 2021. Georgia patented sulguni cheese according to Shiraqi’s internal standard of sulguni-making.
Overall, due to the increase in the price of raw milk, the prices of raw milk products were high last year, but in spite of this our sales were stable.
Georgia’s most stylish and top-service casino, Shanrgi La, is continuing to develop on the Georgian market with the opening of a new branch in the country’s Black Sea resort city of Batumi.
“The Shangri La brand is currently expanding in Georgia with plans to open a new location in Batumi. This will give our staff the chance for career development and offer a fantastic new location for both our regular and new guests," Helen Keane, newly appointed General Manager of Shangri La Tbilisi, told Golden Brand.
Currently there is only one Shangri La casino operating in Tbilisi. Located in one of the most historic and picturesque areas, near Bridge of Peace, Shangri La has been offering the best casino experience with classic table games and a variety of modern slot machines in a luxurious, comfortable and secure atmosphere since 2012.
Shangri La Tbilisi is part of the Shangri La casinos family, managed by Storm International, a world-famous gaming business operator with around 30 years of history and reputation.
The company upholds all the established international gaming standards along with excellent service and security. This year Shangri La has been awarded the most prestigious and influential business award in Georgia, Golden Brand, for the sixth time.
Q. You are the new General Manager of the Shangri La casino in Tbilisi. Please introduce yourself to us and tell us about your best managerial experience.
A. I started my career in the UK as a trainee dealer when I was 18 years old. At that time the casino industry was developing world-wide which gave me the opportunities to travel and work overseas. While it is difficult to pinpoint the best managerial experience, one thing I do get a lot of satisfaction from is seeing our employees rising through the ranks. To see someone start as a trainee dealer, like myself, and eventually reach a managerial position is very rewarding.
Q. What will your impact on Shangri La Tbilisi be, in your opinion? What are your plans, what will you try to accomplish or improve in the casino?
A. Storm International rotates its top managers, this allows us to look at our operations with a fresh set of eyes and identify areas that can be improved.
As our staff are our greatest asset, we are constantly looking at how to improve staff conditions and the work environment. I am constantly striving to maintain and improve the standards which Shangri La is renowned for, assure policies and procedures are adhered to, and assist staff with their career growth.
Q. What was the first thing you did when you got to work at the casino?
A. When I first took over in Tbilisi I had many meetings with Heads of Departments and employees in order to get to know them and understand their concerns and visions for the future.
Q. How do you feel about living in Georgia? What are your impressions about this country and about its gambling sector?
A. I love living in Tbilisi. The people are very warm, the food is excellent and it’s a very vibrant culture with a unique atmosphere.
The gaming sector in Georgia is well-developed and very competitive. In my opinion, competition is good for the casino industry. It helps raise standards which attracts more foreign clients who, in turn, contribute more to the Georgian economy.
Q. What would you do if you won the jackpot?
A. I think I would throw a big party then treat my family to a world-wide cruise!
Q. Do you play sometimes and what is your favorite game?
A. I don’t usually have much time to play but on the occasions when I do, I play blackjack or poker.
Q. Why did you become interested in working in Tbilisi's Shangri La?
A. Casino work at all levels can be a transient job, that’s one of its benefits. Its always interesting to experience a new culture and country. The experience of working in different countries teaches you different management approaches.
Q. You have experience working in Minsk, Kiev casinos... Can you compare these markets to Georgia's — what are the differences, similarities, how well-developed is Georgia in comparison? What are the challenges here?
A. The main differences are legislative and tax related but, in general, the business itself is very similar in most countries. Game preference varies in different regions but at the end of the day all players expect top level service and professional staff. One of the main challenges is attracting new visitors to the casino when advertising laws are extremely restrictive in Georgia.
Q. Please tell us what Shangri La casino currently offers guests — games, atmosphere, gastronomy, and anything else.
A. Shangri La provides an internationally recognized level of service, confidentiality, and a comfortable atmosphere. We have the most popular games, high limits and state-of the art slot machines. We offer Russian, Caribbean, Texas Hold'em, Ultimate Texas Hold'em, and Three card poker.
Our restaurant is also renowned for both its Georgian and international cuisine.
Q. Shangri La has won the Golden Brand again this year. In your opinion, why have the experts chosen Shangri La as their favorite casino in Georgia all these years?
A. It is an honor to win this prestigious award for the sixth year running. For the Shangri La brand it is a testament to our approach to business and how we keep adapting to meet and exceed market demands.
Georgian brand Sadili, producing canned and ready-made Georgian food, is introducing Georgian flavors to foreign markets.
Amiko Kalandia, Marketing Consultant at Sadili, told Golden Brand that Sadili canned products are already available in Azerbaijan.
“We have exported our products to Azerbaijan and are still continuing the expansion process. At the same time we are trying to be available in every corner of Georgia,” he said.
Sadili is a Georgian word that means “dinner”. Famous Georgian traditional dishes that take time and requires some cooking skills are now easily accessible to consumers — ready-made satsivi, dolma, khalia, chakhokhbili, kharcho, beans and others dishes, all in canned form, are available in supermarkets across the country.
In an interview with Golden Brand, Kalandia shared his impressions about what factors led Sadili to their success and the Golden Brand award itself.
Q. Sadili has won the Golden Brand in the category “favorite canned Georgian product”. What led the brand to this success in your opinion?
A. There are several factors that led to this recognition. First of all, the uniqueness of the concept of the brand, which produces canned traditional Georgian food. The other factor is the uniqueness of the products — Sadili products are prepared in a high-tech factory with locally produced ingredients. These two factors create a competitive advantage in the market.
I would say the most “sensitive” factor of Sadili’s success is that we preserved old, traditional flavors of Georgian cuisine and have made difficult-to-prepare dishes easily accessible to consumers.
The unity of these factors and solid communication with the customer base make our product number one in the market.
Q. You mentioned the unique concept of Sadili. How did you come up with this idea and what kind of traditional dishes can we find under the Sadili brand?
A. There’s a lot of canned products in our market, but I think canned satsivi, a Georgian dish made from poultry in a walnut sauce, is offered only by Sadili.
We came up with the idea to create Sadili as a brand taking into account the fact that people often have less time and energy to prepare meals and therefore need convenient and easy options. Canned foods are affordable, long-lasting and easy to store.
As for offering canned dishes from traditional Georgian cuisine, this is a creative way to introduce traditional flavors to a wider audience. Previously we had just twelve products, now we are doing twenty.
This concept gives us an advantage on the market. To that end, we are always doing research to determine where best to go with our portfolio strategy.
Q. Please summarize Sadili’s operations on the market.
A. Sadili first appeared in 2018 with ready-made canned dinners. Over time we added several categories of stewed meats, fish and mushroom products. During this period we actively worked on improving the taste and appearance of our products.
Today Sadili has an updated design, a completely new strategy, and an assortment of about twenty products.
Q. What is the top-selling product?
A. All products have their customers, but stewed meat is our bestseller.
In the past we produced up to one million products, the majority of which were sold on the local market, and some of them were exported to Canada and Ukraine. We used to supply the Georgian military as well.
Q. Sadili participated in the largest food and beverage sourcing event in the world in Dubai — Gulfood. How did thar go?
A. Our visit to Dubai was quite rewarding, we had talks with several big distributors. At the exhibition we had the opportunity to meet both local buyers and suppliers of various raw materials. We have already begun cooperation with several suppliers, which will give us the opportunity to improve the quality of our products. We are also preparing to obtain an FDA Certificate, which will allow us to enter the US market.
Overall, I would say that our company and each member of our team is dedicated to creating great products for Georgian customers and of course everyone else. I hope to fulfill all the ambitious plans we have for the future.
Georgia’s leading optical company Roniko is expanding on the local market with about four new branches and offering luxury eyewear from such global brands as Ermenegildo Zegna, MaxMara, Barton Perreira and others.
Currently, Roniko has a wide network of 23 stores located in Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi, offering the largest local selection of products - sunglasses, eyeglasses, power lenses and contact lenses, and even sight diagnostics.
The shelves at Roniko stores are always stocked with the latest collection of international luxury brands. In partnership with Luxottica Group, De Rigo, Marcolin, Eschenbach and others, Roniko supplies the local market with eyewear from Ray-Ban, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Emporio Armani, Persol, George Piralli, Bvlgari, Chopard, Cartier, Ermenegildo Zegna, Versace, Vogue, Oakley, Miu -Miu, and others.
General Director of Roniko Roland Javakhia reviewed the company’s development with Golden Brand and thanked customers and experts surveyed by the Golden Brand awards for naming Roniko as their favorite lenswear company in Georgia.
Q. Roniko has been growing steadily since 1995. During this time the company has gained the trust of the customers, reflected by the Golden Brand nomination. What's it like to start the business in such a difficult time as the ‘90s and withstand the many challenges the country and of course the company have faced over the years?
A. We started our work in the most difficult period in the ‘90s. Roniko’s first optical store opened in 1996 on 107 Agmashenebeli Avenue in Tbilisi. This store still stands at this address.
We had no illusions that we would be successful when launching the company, on the contrary we worked patiently for several years and invested all the resources we earned in development. To date, our main revenue is used for development and invested in education, network expansion and modern technology.
Among many other factors, the history of Roniko is shaped by the people who work for us. The success and prestige of the company depend on their professionalism. Every employee who has a relationship with the customer is the face of Roniko. Ensuring the professionalism of the employees is one of the main tasks of the company. Seminars and training for ophthalmologists and sales staff are regularly held with the participation of experienced experts and specialists from partner companies. Staff are informed about the latest developments in the field of optics, fashion trends and master high-level service skills. It is a pleasure to keep the team stable and encourage them to grow into good managers.
During Roniko’s 27 years of operation, its main achievement is the trust of the customer. Our main task is to make Roniko a byword for high quality, good service and exquisite taste. We strive to offer customers diverse and updated collections. This is made possible by the fact that Roniko is the official distributor of more than 50 brands in Georgia and cooperates with the world’s leading optical companies.
As for partners, there were cases when we had to prove the reliability and respectability of our company prior to cooperating with international brands. With these small steps towards success, Roniko has become a company that every foreign partner wants to have a relationship with today. Even today, they contact us and request to meet and communicate with us, as the leading optical company in the Caucasus. Today we have the opportunity to choose the best partner brands ourselves.
The most important achievement of recent years is the wide range of power lenses and contact lenses. Roniko offers Hoya and Essilor power lenses. As for contact lenses, we have products of all three major world leading manufacturers — Cooper Vision, Alcon, Johnson & Johnson.
Constantly updated, new and exclusive collections are the most important aspects of Roniko’s success. Collections are selected by company buyers who regularly attend international optical exhibitions. Every year Roniko’s team travels to the SILMO and MIDO exhibitions, as well as to Luxottica exhibitions in various Italian cities. The best collections selected there will be found later in Roniko optical stores.
Q. In the category “favorite optical company” Roniko won the Golden Brand award. Please tell us what led the company to this recognition.
A. First of all, I would like to tell you that it is very pleasant for us to get this award and see appreciation for and recognition of our company’s activities.
Yes, I agree that we are actually the leaders in the optical industry and that is the result of our 28 years of tireless work. We represent the largest optical network, distinguished by a collection and service backed by high quality.
Q. Please summarize 2022, as the Golden Brand award is given to the companies following the successful activities of the previous year.
A. Despite global difficulties and tensions, 2022 was a post-pandemic, recovery and regeneration year that should be considered truly productive for our company, both in terms of sales and branch growth.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict added an unhappy tone to the beginning of the year. The entire world's attention was directed to Ukraine, so consumers still missed some novelties and quality products after the pandemic. We correctly identified their needs in time and, together with foreign partners, provided in a timely and efficient manner exactly what was needed for the market and the country.
Last year we introduced daily contact lenses from Alcon's Dailies Total, a very successful project in 2022, and this year we added another brand, CooperVision, with its Myday lenses.
Technological developments have also ensured lenses made with unique technology. Customers can find BlueControl glasses lenses from Japanese company HOYA that protect against harmful blue light, harmful blue rays emitted from the screens of computers, phones, tablets and various digital devices.
Q. How many branches does Roniko have in Georgia and do you plan to expand?
A. Yes, of course we plan to expand. As of now we have 23 branches, although I think this number will increase to 26-27 by the end of the year.
Our country is developing quite fast, even now a new shopping center is planned to be opened in Batumi, where Roniko will also be represented.
We are planning to add a new branch on a very strategic street in Batumi in April. Along with the opening of new branches, we regularly update existing branches.
Q. Which international brands do you officially cooperate with and which brands are exclusively represented at Roniko?
A. Roniko unites more than 60 global brands. We represent the Italian company Luxottica in the optical industry, from whose portfolio a number of leading and popular brands are on sale in Georgia, such as Ray-Ban, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Armani, Persol, etc.
We also have jewelry brands such as Chopards, Cartier, BVLGARI.
We should not forget the Georgian brand George Piralli, which, thanks to its interesting collections and quality models, is loved by both Georgian and foreign customers.
Q. There are a number of optical stores in Georgia. How healthy is the competition on the market and what is Roniko’s competitive advantage?
A. We welcome the appearance of companies that sell original products on the market.
The main advantage of Roniko is stability, assortment, service, price, and selection. Tbilisi stands next to Milan, Paris, and other big cities in terms of trend-following. Our customers always see and appreciate this.
Style is what the customer likes, and usually it is quite diverse. You have to know your customer in order to help them choose.
Our slogan is: “With Roniko You See Better and Look Wonderful!”
Georgian brand RERA, offering semi-finished frozen foods and smoked fish, and a member of G&A GROUP, is planning to expand in the country due to meet increased demand.
Commercial Director of the company Nick Lomidze said that an expansion of the RERA factory to up production is planned. But, as Lomidze said, the brand has “celebrated success” in exporting as well.
“In 2022 the RERA brand entered the markets of Bahrain and Azerbaijan for the first time and became quite popular there. We continue to work on exporting, we have specific plans and negotiations, but for now we will refrain from specifics,” he said.
In the meantime, RERA continues to expand in Georgia to fill every nook & cranny of the country.
“Currently we are developing full coverage of eastern Georgia. In 2022 we added two retail chains that have full coverage of the territory of Georgia. We have plans for 2023 in this direction as well,” Lomidze said.
Established in 2012, G&A GROUP is a central importer of frozen meat and fish in Georgia. With 7,000 ton-capacity A+ warehouses, it holds a significant share in the premium storage market. As for RERA, it launched operations in 2016 with co-financing from the Produce in Georgia state program.
“The company’s mission is to save time for home cooking. Of greatest importance is the quality of food and delicious meals. The company hopes to have a place in the freezer of every family in Georgia,” Lomidze said.
Q. RERA won in the category "production of semi-finished products" and thus snagged the Golden Brand award. Why do you think experts and customers named Rera their favorite brand?
A. To produce in Georgia is to give your word on quality to the local market. Quality is a priority for us. RERA semi-finished products are produced only with natural raw materials. The customers choose quality, so they choose Rera.
It is the customers’ unanimity that has guaranteed our success for eight years on the Georgian market, and I thank them for this appreciation.
Meanwhile, we have managed to develop production efficiency and expand the brand portfolio over the years without losing quality! In our opinion, this is the reason for winning the Golden Brand award this year again.
Q. As the Golden Brand award is given to companies following successful activities in the previous year, could you please summarize 2022?
A. Last year RERA enjoyed 40% growth compared to 2021 despite the post-pandemic market situation and a serious shortage of raw materials. Moreover, we were able to send our products outside the country.
We introduce at least one new product every year. Last year we brought Ukrainian pelmeni to the market, which really took off with customers. Ukrainian pelmeni are now on the list of three best-selling products.
Q. How many products are being produced by RERA currently?
A. As of today RERA offers nineteen varieties of different semi-finished products, of which the top-sellers are Siberian and Ukrainian pelmeni, layered dough, vareniki with sulguni, khinkali kalakuri and chicken nuggets.
Q. Now let’s talk about G&A GROUP, which is involved in producing and distributing semi-finished meat and fish products in the country through three brands — RERA, Khinda and Nobati. Please tell us about the other brands.
A. RERA is a premium-segment brand which occupies more than 25% of sales in the market. Based on the price segment of the brand, we decided to create products that would also be made from natural raw materials and be more affordable. This is how Khinda came to be, which has been on the market since 2020. Khinda includes about twenty products both in packages as well as in bulk. Khinda is no less successful.
Meanwhile, Nobati also offers frozen meat and fish products. Its advantage is also determined by quality and safety, because before packaging the product undergoes laboratory testing, and so the customer can be sure of the product's quality and reliability.
Q. Considering all three brands, what is the market-share of G&A Group in Georgia currently?
A. Today the Group holds approximately 25% of the market and has growth potential.
Q. From which countries do you import goods?
A. Imports come from anywhere we can find quality raw materials. For example Brazil, Argentina, America, Canada, Germany, Belgium and others. We use imported as well as locally-produced goods in production. Locally we purchase sulguni and Imeruli cheese, onions, herbs and so on.
Q. You brought in a special refrigerator from Germany that does “shock” freezing. Tell us what role it has played in the company's production?
A. Yep, our business proceeds with the latest equipment, and one of them is a spiral shock freezer, which only a few manufacturers in Georgia have. The shock chamber freezes products at 40℃, preserving taste and nutritional value of the product. It is important to note that when freezing at -40℃, all kinds of bacteria and fungi are preserved in the product, if any, and most importantly, the shelf life is determined by the temperature at which the product is frozen.
Our Group and all daughter brands will continue development on the local market with innovative solutions and guarantees of quality and taste!
Pasta Reggia, an Italian pasta manufacturer on the market for a decade, has rolled out its new Nutri Bio and La Ruvida Italiana lines, intertwining Mediterranean tradition and conscious health decisions.
Reggia pasta is a dinnertime favorite for many around the world, including in Georgia. In a survey conducted by Golden Brand, over 2,000 customers and 100 experts named Pasta Reggia as their favorite.
Tamar Kaladze, Head of the Marketing Department at BMS - the Georgian company which imports and distributes Pasta Reggia in Georgia - shared her impressions of winning the Golden Brand.
Q. Pasta Reggia has been declared Georgian customers’ favorite pasta, winning its first Golden Brand award. How has the brand achieved this recognition in Georgia, in your opinion?
A. I think the success and recognition of the brand are determined by several factors — the first and main factor is high quality, which is always unchanged, high penetration of the brand in the market, which determines its availability, and continuous and stable supply.
We all probably remember the products that disappeared from the shelves during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support and help of the supplier, Pasta Reggia did not have this problem.
Pasta Reggia’s success lies in the high-quality durum wheat from which it is made, preventing it from sticking together during cooking.
Sales of Pasta Reggia are increasing every year. For us 2022 was more successful than 2021, and 2021 was more successful than 2020, and so on. Last year, for example, sales increased by 30% compared to 2021.
The brand is always developing and actively communicates with its customers, providing information about news and promotions both at retail outlets and through digital media. Of course, we continue to work on developing the brand and increasing awareness throughout Georgia.
Q. Please summarize how Pasta Reggia has grown since its first appearance on the Georgian market?
A. Pasta Reggia has been produced in Italy in the small town of Capodrice near Naples since 1949. The company belongs to the fourth generation of the Pallante family. The factory is not large, and the company has a total of five production lines. The family’s motto is not to sacrifice quality for volume. So the quality of Pasta Reggia is always guaranteed.
Pasta Reggia has been in Georgia for more than ten years. The pasta market is quite diverse here, but Reggia is an outstanding brand among many.
Q. How many products are found in Reggia’s portfolio in Georgia?
A. Pasta Reggia has about 54 products here — pasta, ready-made sauces, and canned tomatoes. The best seller is, of course, pasta, in particular spaghetti and fusilli.
Q. How saturated is the Georgian market with pasta and what is Pasta Reggia’s advantage?
A. There are about sixty brands from various countries in Georgia, so the competition is quite stiff, increasing the challenge for us to supply high-quality pasta.
Pasta Reggia has many advantages — we provide geographical and financial availability. We all remember that during and after the pandemic the price of cereals increased quite a bit, and so did the price of pasta. We have tried our best to raise prices minimally and maintain existing prices for as long as possible. Of course, the supplier helped us with this.
Due to rapid development and busy lifestyles, consumers often prepare dishes requiring little time and skill. Pasta is a particularly suitable product. The advantage of Pasta Reggia lies in its high quality and manufacturing technology. As I mentioned before, the pasta is produced with pure durum wheat semolina, water, and without any preservatives, because it is the drying of the product that allows it to be kept naturally.
The grains used in production are carefully selected, always wheat varieties of Italian and European origin. And modern production technologies ensure product safety. That is why Pasta Reggia is a company committed to tradition and quality.
Georgian online media outlet Publika is working to expand its audience with new projects to be launched in the near future.
Director General of Publica, Zura Vardiashvili, looked back at recent developments at Publika and talked about the role of media in today’s society in an interview with Golden Brand.
Publika has been supporting the country’s most prestigious and influential business award ceremony, the Golden Brand, for three years running.
Founded in 2019, and having already won two EU prizes for journalism, the online agency Publika is a non-entrepreneurial, non-commercial legal entity, whose governing body is a general assembly of members.
Q. Recently you were detained during a public protest against the infamous “foreign agents” law for “minor misconduct and police disobedience”, before being released in about two hours. What is the responsibility you feel, as a citizen of the country and at the same time as director of a local media outlet, for the country during such important moments, and what impact did these events have on Publika?
A. Let's start with the fact that I did not call Vazha Siradze, the director of the police department, a traitor, as I was accused of doing. I didn't even notice him until he grabbed my hand and called the police with him to arrest me.
I, my colleagues and other demonstrators chanted slogans that we used before in parliament during discussion of the bill — "No to Russian law", "You can’t make Belarus out of this country", "This is treason to your homeland", "Traitors"... It seems that Mr. Vazha Shesha Siradze — yes, he is known by this nickname, because in the winter he used to take firewood [shesha] from the protestors, which they needed for heating — took the slogans addressed to the deputies supporting the Russian law to heart. Or maybe he himself is a supporter of the Russian law and therefore the Russian cause, and took it upon himself.
This was no ordinary protest, nor were my colleagues and I there as activists. We opposed the Russian law precisely as journalists, since it was directed against the media, speech and expression, freedom in general, and we considered it our duty not only to cover these events, but also take a stand.
I think no harm can come from standing on the right side of history, and this was proved by the struggle of hundreds of thousands of citizens who forced the authorities to withdraw their proposed law.
Q. What is the role of the media today in the conditions of information war and how difficult is it to maintain standards of journalism and ethics while fighting propaganda? What is it like to be the director of a media outlet in Georgia today?
A. Yes, the rules of the game are changing. Propaganda refines its own methods, uses new technology. It becomes more difficult to distinguish propaganda from reality. In these conditions independent, qualified and reliable media outlets are assigned a decisive role.
Managing a media outlet in Georgia today means living under high risk, restrictions, arrests, health and even life threats. If you are going to do this, you need to be sure that it is your heartfelt choice.
Q. Please share recent developments and future plans.
A. Publika has always been oriented to innovations. Even now, we are working on various projects to increase the reach and engagement of our media in order to reach as large an audience as possible.
Q. How diverse are the topics or news categories that you offer readers today?
A. We are a public-political publication with topics such as education, healthcare, minorities, the rights of the disabled and socially vulnerable, and others of importance to us.
I think we are meeting the needs and interests of our readers, but it's not good to stay satisfied for long. We are working on new directions, which we will introduce to our audience very soon.
Q. How developed is online media in Georgia and what is Publika’s contribution to this process?
A. Nowadays, if any media in Georgia are fully developed, it’s online.
Obviously there are huge problems as well, for example financial sustainability. Although online marketing in general is growing, businesses avoid cooperation with critical and professional publications in order not to incur the wrath of the authorities, although even in these conditions, online media, including Publika, play a crucial role in protecting freedom of speech and democracy.
Q. Last year, the total commercial advertising revenue of television and radio broadcasters decreased by 7.6% compared to the previous year. What was the data for your sector in this regard?
A. The exact data of the online advertising market is not considered. This is also one of the problems in this market. However, as a general observation, more and more money is being invested online, although this money is still mainly garnered by the international giants, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Tik-Tok.
Q. Publika is a supporter of the Golden Brand awards. Why is this cooperation of interest to Publika?
A. Publika wants to support all activities imbued with responsibility towards such general human values as freedom, equality, protected rights, prosperity. I think that the Golden Brand is based on such values too.
Georgia’s leading pharmaceutical company PSP is planning to expand its presence by opening 30 new branches in large villages of the country, while updating the space at its larger stores to offer a more comfortable and pleasant shopping experience to its customers.
Vazha Okriashvili, Director of PSP Pharma, told Golden Brand that “small changes” will be made to the health, beauty and family care areas of stores.
Q. Please tell us how you are going to change your storefront to appeal to customers.
A. Customers always want new things. After a certain period of time, you should engage your customer with even a small change, you should surprise and fascinate them with a new offer, which will make communication with customers even more comfortable and pleasant.
Customers ask us to evolve our brand. In the near future we plan to update our larger stores, where we will allow customers to spend more time and introduce more entertaining elements to the beauty section. We want to make the buying process more pleasant for the customer. The customer will have the opportunity to test how this or that product will fit, even to try different makeup products on.
As for childcare products, based on our experience we have come to the conclusion that baby strollers, playpens and similar products will be moved to e-commerce for purchase on the PSP app. There has been more interest from customers in the direction of gift sets, children's accessories, and we are planning to expand the assortment in this direction from the end of the year.
Regarding the pharmaceutical section, we always want the communication between the customer and the pharmacist to be confidential. With a small minimum barrier, we will allocate a zone to create intimacy and avoid other people’s observance in the communication between the pharmacist and the customer.
We will introduce this concept to our pharmacies this fall and expect to completely update the interior space in our larger pharmacies by 2024.
Q. This year PSP won its eighteenth Golden Brand at the Golden Brand awards ceremony, meaning that PSP has never lost to any other company operating in the same field. What are the main factors that determine the unchanged position of PSP as Georgian customers’ favorite pharmacy chain?
A. PSP has set a goal to be the best in the field, which means following proper, correct processes, and being honest with the people, God and the state. A very good team has been formed, which is able to keep up with global innovations and bring the pharmaceutical market of Georgia closer to international good medical practices.
Q. Speaking of that, which practices and standards have been introduced by PSP to the Georgian pharmaceutical market?
A. For example, the process of getting closer to the GDP standard, a code of standards ensuring that the quality of a medicine is maintained throughout the distribution network, so that authorized medicines are distributed to retail pharmacists and others selling medicines to the general public without any alteration of their properties. This is a continuous process, a way of life for our company.
PSP has always managed to work according to the GDP standard, and when it became mandatory for the market two years ago, our company was partially prepared to meet this. Both the state regulatory body and the German organization have given us recognition that we are indeed working according to the good distribution practices (GDP) standard.
Q. Now let’s continue talking about the key factors that have led PSP to success…
A. One of the key factor that determines PSP’s success is that we are a customer-centric pharmaceutical company. We ensure the supply of quality products to the customer throughout the entire production chain. Two million people visit our pharmacy chains every month and we are responsible for meeting their expectations and offering only the best. We listen carefully to our customers and build strategies on their wishes.
Q. What was the primary goal of PSP and have you achieved it during the 29 years of existence?
A. Physical availability, geographical availability and price availability - these were our primary goals. In my opinion, we have satisfied all three goals.
Since the establishment of the company, work has been going on to ensure physical availability of medicines in Georgia. Our goal was that all the medicines registered in the European Union, and those which our population has been accustomed to since the Soviet Union, should be available to us. We were able to do this around 2002.
I can say that we have achieved geographical availability in the market. With 306 pharmacies, we are able to bring our products to consumers as close to their homes as possible. Most importantly, the costs of transportation do not affect the costs of the products, and medicines cost the same in the country as the region.
As for prices, you know that the reference price system went into effect in 2022 in Georgia, meaning that pharmaceutical companies, importers, distributors and retailers of medical drugs are prohibited from selling medicines at prices exceeding the reference set by authorities. We welcome this initiative, but would question the methodology according to which the reference prices are calculated. In the end, this system is acceptable to us.
Q. How do you view these regulations for the market and for your company?
A. We see every regulation as an opportunity. For example, in 2009, when the concept of parallel import was introduced, it was an opportunity for us to import medicine from European countries in a parallel import system and make medicines cheaper for the population.
You are familiar with another initiative by the government, to import cheaper Turkish medicine. This initiative was also launched last year. This also gave us the opportunity to purchase medicines at the price that is set on the Turkish market, so the prices of many medicines have decreased. But the suppliers also lowered the prices, so getting medicines from Turkey is no longer necessary, and in this case it is more important for us to deal directly with the suppliers, because this way cooperation is more stable. Also, the quality control mechanism works better than under parallel import.
For customers, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday we offer discounts on all medicines. During this period, more vulnerable groups visit our pharmacies. In addition, all 60+ people have discounts on a full range of medicines with us every day.
Q. What are some new global trends in the pharmaceutical market and how does Georgia follow them?
A. Now there is a new trend in the direction of medicines - combined products are more in demand than mono products. While earlier there was only enalapril as an antihypertensive only, now there is enalapril with chlorothiazide. Of course, these innovations are also available in PSP.
Trends are changing in the world and people will slowly move toward prevention to avoid illness. All over the world manufacturers are switching to biologically active supplements because if you maintain the chemical balance in the body, you can better avoid disease.
Q. Now tell us about future goals of the company.
A. PSP is a fully Georgian company. We do Georgian work and serve the Georgian people. This empowers us to be a leader in the pharmaceutical market. We want to be an example to others, how you can start with one pharmacy and become a company that is included in the top 10 largest companies in Georgia and has 35% of the market in its field of operation.
We would like to export medicines manufactured at our factory GM Pharma, which is the only one in the Caucasus recognized by the most famous and influential European experts. Today we export medicines to about ten countries, but we want to achieve more, and if wine is the most famous export product of the country today, why can't it be medicine? In the end, it is very important for the economy of Georgia and its development that more companies export, and I wish each company to fulfill their dreams, and strengthen their country by exporting and bringing more income to our country.
PSP started its activities in 1994 and its first activity in Georgia
was in distribution. Initially, the distribution company PSP Center of Introduction was created,
which became the first official distributor of European medicines in Georgia.
Step by step the company expanded its product offerings into medical cosmetics, hygiene care,
children’s nutrition and skincare products.
The name of the company – PSP – is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase, "Paulatim
Summa Petuntur", which in English would mean ‘Step-by-step to the Peack’. And the company strives for just that.