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Franco Fontana Jewelry, which has been on the Georgian market for more than 10 years, says it has adapted to the reality of the pandemic and managed to offer online sales and new services in just a short period of time.

 

Company Director Maka Razmadze says that the first coronavirus lockdown in Georgia in the spring of 2020 was particularly challenging because at that time, the company did not have online sales.

 

However, she says that Franco Fontana ‘did just that’, and adapted to the reality quickly and offered several new services to retain consumers, employees and save the company.

 

Currently Franco Fontana has seven shops in the capital city and an eighth, premium-class shop also in Tbilisi where only 750 specimen gold, silver and other precious stones jewelry are sold.

 

“We had plans to open a branch in Batumi. However, due to the pandemic the process has been postponed. However, thanks to our online service we now cover the whole country,” Razmadze stated.

 

The company currently employs about 50 individuals and ‘has been a symbol of reliability and quality on the market for more than 10 years’, Razmadze says, noting the pandemic has not changed their role and achievements.

 

“We have been distinguished by our collections which are for every segment. We have always had excellent service and attitude to our consumers. We are widely present in Tbilisi and are very active on social media to make our jewelry available around the country and make people happy. The best team, best collection, best service, best prices and special jewelry are the advantages which make us distinguished from other brands and that is why people choose Franco Fontana,” Razmadze stated.

How much has Franco Fontana contributed to the development of the local market?
 

Our contribution to the development of the market is high. We have introduced Italian gold, laser cut jewelry. It is the merit of Franco Fontana that precious stones, including diamonds, now come with certificates. Franco Fontana managed to raise standards on the market and regulate them.
 

What were the major challenges you faced as a company in 2020?
 

Our major challenges in 2020 were not to lose consumers due to the pandemic and due to the increased price of gold and to retain personnel. When the pandemic began, we had no online sales. However, we managed to adapt to the situation rapidly. We started selling vouchers which allowed us to pay salaries to our personnel during the whole pandemic period. Soon the price of gold increased. However, through our efforts and discounts, we tried to regulate the price. Initially the launch of online sales and exclusive video calls were also challenging because we received numerous messages online. In short, the first stage was challenging to adapt to the unusual situation created by the pandemic.
 

 What about your marketing activities?
 

We have always actively cooperated with leading marketing channels, starting from television to printed media outlets. We have been taking steps to promote our products, the company image and status with the help of social media. I can say that our efforts worked successfully. Our marketing team has been devoted. Nini Zeqalashvili has been the marketing manager over the past two years, who has recently left the company. We wish her success. It was the big merit of the marketing team that our company survived. We did not have to close any of our shops or cut the number of personnel.

International furniture producer company Embawood which has been present on the Georgian market since 2007 has undergone a complete entrepreneurial upgrade to further boost the quality of its products, expand production and strengthen its position on the market.
The company has plans to add new branches, activate corporate orders and export its products.

International furniture producer company Embawood which has been present on the Georgian market since 2007 has undergone a complete entrepreneurial upgrade to further boost the quality of its products, expand production and strengthen its position on the market.
The company has plans to add new branches, activate corporate orders and export its products.

Element Construction, a leading Georgian construction company which has been present on the market since 2007, has received international ISO 9001:2015 certificate this year ‘which indicates that the company quality of design, construction, organisational planning, business process management and legal issues are in full line with top standards,’ says the company leadership.

Domson's Engineering & Construction, a leading engineering company in Georgia, has launched construction and Fit Out services. 

Global chewing gum brand Dirol, a brand owned by Mondelez International, has appeared in Georgian stores with new packaging which is ‘more attractive and youthful’, says Zurab Lomsadze, National Key Account Manager for the Central Asia and the Caucasus region. 

“Previously, we conducted consumer research which showed that our target audience considered the old packaging outdated. Since the update we have only received positive feedback that the packaging has become very visible on the shelf and looks trendy”, he said.

In addition, Dirol is entering a new segment for youngsters in Georgia with Dirol Minions new chewing gum.

“Innovations are an important part of Dirol’s development, and we never stop exploring new market opportunities. Later on, we are going to play with different formats and product types to catch up with existing trends”, said Lomsadze

The systematic and steady development of Dirol on the Georgian market has continued since 2011 after the acquisition of confectionery company Cadbury by Mondelez International.

“Today there are 22 products in our lineup. During 2020 we have seen a clear tendency for fruit flavors because the perception of gum changed – it became a sweet treat instead of refreshment for socializing”, he said.

At the beginning of 2020, Dirol in Georgia launched a new flavor of chewing gum – coconut-strawberry. You told us then that ‘we have more than one unique innovation prepared for our consumers but could not talk about these plans at that time. Could you please tell us now what that unique innovation was?

I was talking about our unique launch of Dirol Charcoal. It’s the first black gum on the Georgian market.

We have all recognized the tendency of all product types to play on black and it is liked by young consumers – you can find new black products in food & cosmetics. So now black is the new white! And who says that gum should be white?

How important is the Georgian market to Dirol’s business today? What growth and expansion prospects do you see in the country?

Georgia is a fast-moving market which shows growth year after year. Moreover, it’s one of the biggest gum markets in the Caucasus and the Central Asia region. Most major manufacturing companies with global brands are represented on the market, but at the same time, there are many local brands with unique Georgian offerings. This makes the market diverse and very saturated.

We, at Mondelez Georgia, feel a great demand for our products, see that our brands are becoming a part of life for many consumers, and understand that our role is leading in this category. We believe in our product and our team, and this makes us constantly move forward and grow, putting the consumer at the top of our priorities.

What are the marketing segments that Dirol focuses on in Georgia?

Primarily, we focus on Generation Z by letting them know all the news Dirol has for them. And to capture their hearts and stay relevant, we try to imbue our marketing activities with originality and purpose. Dirol has ambitious plans for promo activities in the future, so stay tuned.

How do you view the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the Georgian market and in general, how has the pandemic affected the sales/export/distribution of Dirol in the country?

The global pandemic of Covid-19 has definitely worsened the economic situation in the country and influenced market development. Nevertheless, in Georgia, we weathered last year better than in some other countries and are generally satisfied with the volume of sales to date.

Could you please summarize 2020 – what were the biggest challenges, biggest achievements?

The biggest challenge was to reorganize our business approach in such unseen circumstances. All businesses changed their strategy, their tactics and carried on. The same was for us.

Nowadays we already have experience in working during the pandemic and we are doing so successfully. Over the past year, we have shown incredible agility & our can-do spirit adapted our approach to the new reality (decrease in category growth, drop in the purchasing power, explosive e-commerce compared to retail), and continued our performance without great losses in sales and distribution. And this is our biggest achievement.

How has 2021 started for your company, what are your expectations?

The resilience and hard work of our team is translating into great results, though there are still some uncertainties on the horizon and purchasing power is recovering very slowly. Until the market fully recovers, we remain focused on our priorities and do not lose sight of our targets.

Georgian customers have named Dirol their number one favorite brand again this year. What do you think has brought Dirol this recognition?

We are honored to be named the best brand in Georgia in our category the third year in a row. This means that our brand development strategy is efficient, and we are moving in the right direction. The success of our product is certainly based on its high quality and wide portfolio, as we consider the trends and preferences of our consumers.

Secondly, it is the availability of products in every store - both in traditional and modern trade spaces. And, of course, powerful brand communication and innovations. Dirol encourages consumers to live a vibrant, dynamic life, never stop on their accomplishments, and always spare time for fun, adventure, and pleasure. Being a constant source of refreshment, chewing gum delivers a bright taste and good mood! And we do feel that consumers appreciate this.

Georgia’s first business radio station Commersant, which began ‘filling the gap’ back in 2008 and has been informing the business sector over economic developments in the country for 12 years, has strongly modified its content during the pandemic to inform and at the same time encourage the business sector.

Bricorama, the first ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) concept hypermarket in Georgia, has offered an outdoor construction-wholesale space and launched an online shop amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bebe+ kids clothing network, which has been present on the Georgian market since 2000, has further activated Facebook sales during the pandemic to ensure comfort for consumers.

International beauty company Avon, a solid employer and a company with a record of empowering women in Georgia, continues to implement a sales growth-oriented strategy on the local market.

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The brand popularity is revealed by the preliminary survey making key focus on creative branding-related solutions. Entrees are judged by about 100 experts. Nominee brands are selected by awareness, popularity as well as by their creative advertising campaigns.

The winners will be granted with diplomas and Golden Brand Statue. The event will be broadcasted via television, radio, printed and online media.

 

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