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.
- Sunday, 28 May 2023
- Personal Finance
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!”Read more
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!Read more