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Offering a wide choice of traditional cuisine, a good combination of price and quality, with one of the largest delivery services in Armenia, the Karas Group’s business is based on an internationally-recognized system for reducing the risk of safety hazards in food. With EU4Business support, the company was able to increase turnover by 31% and grow sales by 20% in a single year.

Serving 250,000 clients in Armenia

Founded in 2005, Karas Group is one of the biggest food chains in Armenia.

“Our chain serves about 250,000 customers in Armenia alone,” says Ashot Harutyunyan, co-founder and president of the Karas Group. “With a selection of 300 food items offered through our network, we were one of the first companies to launch its own delivery service in 2018.”

Growing a company always means more responsibility for its management: more employees with HR issues, more marketing, new menus and prices, higher costs, and so on. With the support of the EBRD Advice for Small Businesses in Armenia program funded by the European Union under its EU4Business initiative, the Karas Group joined the EBRD International Advisory program back in 2014 to address certain gaps in its strategy, operations and quality control. An international expert helped the company improve HR policies and procedures, establish a quality and food safety control system by introducing HACCP, improve its marketing strategy, and increase overall cost effectiveness.

Harutyunyan explains that one important achievement for Karas was clarifying every single job description and introducing a new code of conduct for employees.

“Thanks to EU4Business support, we developed new mechanisms for supervising staff turnover that significantly raised the quality of work and reduced turnover among our employees,” he says.

The company decided to hire a marketing specialist to direct the company’s overall marketing strategy. The existing menu was replaced by a more attractive, friendly version that immediately had a very positive impact on sales.

EU4Business-supported growth of business and e-marketing

In 2016, HACCP quality standards were successfully implemented by the Karas Group to minimize or eliminate food safety hazards in the company’s products.

“HACCP standards helped improve the efficiency of all our departments, and the development of a franchising model,” says Tigran Yuzbashyan, a co-founder and director of the Karas Group.

In 2017, the company reached its initial goal of getting a nibble from the US market with the opening of its restaurant in Los Angeles. Today, the Karas Group is in the process of opening a second location. With EU4Business support, the Karas Group has developed a strategy and expanded its business to the US market, complete with a marketing plan and cost control procedures.

Yuzbashyan recalls that their first EU-supported project resulted in the company’s growth and increased sales, and helped Karas deal with the new challenge of online orders.

“We figured out that an integrated order application on the website would automate delivery procedures and increase sales,” he says.

At this point, a new EU-supported project with a local consultant helped with the transition to e-marketing: the Group launched a new multifunctional website, together with web and mobile applications for online orders in Armenia and the US. The result was very rewarding: online orders rose 300% and the Karas Group demonstrated solid growth. Turnover went up 31% and sales grew 20% in a single year.

Such a long-term, successful collaboration co-funded under the EU4Business initiative pushed the Karas Group into the Blue Ribbon Club, a membership of select, established SMEs committed to growth and leadership.

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