leading name in high-end watch making has chosen
Abovian Street in Yerevan as home for its latest
Last month the Franck Muller company of Switzerland
opened in what had been the Moscow restaurant
on Charles Aznavour Square.
In a country where it would take several years
of an official average income to afford one of
the pricey timepieces, it might seem a risky venture
for the major company.
"In the beginning we supposed that Armenia,
being a trade crossroad for Iran, Turkey and Russia
will provide us with a large market," said
Muller, on hand for the launch of the new store.
"However, returning to Armenia after a four-year
break I think that we will have many customers
here as well, due to economic growth."
A large choice of watches and jewelry produced
by the company is available for the Armenian customers,
with prices that start at about 6000 Swiss Francs
(around $4,000 or 2,340,000 drams).
Last spring, Swatch opened a boutique in Yerevan,
featuring its typically trendy and mid-priced
watches, and some speculated that even the commonly-priced
brand would have difficulty attracting customers.
Never, though, has a company with such prices
as Muller attempted business in Armenia.
While currently it serves as something of a gallery
for curious on-lookers, founders make no secret
that their expectations have proved fruitful,
as thus far they have had enough local customers
as well as just window shoppers.
"Those valuing these kind of things and
able to afford them were here the next day after
it opened," says businessman Armen Hayrapetyan,
founder of the Franck Muller shop in Armenia.
But Hayrapetyan says the primary goal of the
dealership was to bring the franchise rights to
Armenia "but not to bigger neighboring states."
Hayrapetyan says Iranian and Georgian companies
involved in the same business had indicated their
interest in cooperation even before the shop was
of this shop will stimulate development of the
Armenian's esthetical taste, as far as they will
see beautiful watches and jewelry," says
Hayrapetyan. "In my opinion the economy in
Armenia is growing, which means people earn money
and they need ways to spend it on beautiful things.
The possibilities for people in Armenia are gradually
growing and the tendency of purchasing bad quality
products decreases. Attention is paid to beautiful
and quality products."
Hayrapetyan returned to Armenia in 1995, after
working in Russia for seven years. He is Armenia's
exclusive distributor for such companies as Samsung,
Gillette group and Nike.
"The present stable economic situation of
our country enables us, businessmen, to cooperate
with such big companies as Franck Muller,"
Besides opening the shop, Franck Muller Company
has invested more than $2 million to jewelry,
leather processing and agriculture in Armenia.
Today, steel watchcases for the company are produced
in Armenia, and eight new super modern tool machines
using new technologies were imported for this
Franck Muller is also a founder of AWI (Armenian
Watch Incorporation) company, which sells around
700,000 watches only on the Russian market annually.
In December, Armenia became a member of the World
Trade Organization, making it possible for labels
of "made in Armenia" to go out to 145
markets throughout the world.
"Soon companies of this level one by one
will express willingness to have such centers
in Armenia and this will positively influence
our economy," Hayrapetyan says.
"Soon we will have a street in Yerevan similar
to Place Vendome in Paris and Ginza in Tokyo."