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Brosse Street Journal » Business and Economy:

FTV is an expensive brand name

By By Sopho Altunashvili
Brosse Street Journal
Thursday, September 14 2006
Print article  |  Mail article   

     It was Michel Adam, the president of Fashion TV (FTV) channel, who created the concept of fashionable night-life hot spots - Fashion Bars. 

     "His goal was and is to bring the FTV's 'look and feel' to night club and café visitors in capital cities and resorts around the world," says a statement on the official Web site of FTV - 

     According to this concept, Fashion Bars are bar/restaurants with TV sets which broadcast only FTV non-stop, 24 hours a day, presenting the world's high fashion. 

     Fashion Bar appeals to a very defined public - ages teens to forties, affluent, life-style oriented societies, says the Web site. Fashion Bars worldwide are centers for photo shoots, star interviews, high fashion events and VIP parties, which are regularly covered by FTV. 

     Tbilisi Fashion Bar appeared on FTV only once, September 23 , 2005, when the opening of the bar was celebrated. 

     Francois Thiellet, vice-president of FTV, arrived in Georgia two years ago and offered Sopho Chkhonia, the owner of model agency AMCA, the rights to open a Fashion Bar in Tbilisi. 

     More than 35 Fashion Bars have opened throughout the world in the last two years. All of them are listed on the Web site except the Tbilisi franchise. Chkhonia explained that the Web pagemakers in Paris are expecting photos from Tbilisi Fashion Bar and will put them on site with the information about the opening when they receive them. 

     On the Internet there are many photos of other Fashion Bars in Jakarta, Beirut, Monte Carlo, Warsaw, Bucharest, Vilnius and other cities. These photos show that the designs for Fashion Bars around the world are different. 

     The furniture and interior decoration for Tbilisi Fashion Bar was chosen by Georgian designers and architects. Tables are low and made from glass; chairs are soft, comfortable and covered with leather. TV sets and wall panels were brought from Paris. The Tbilisi Fashion Bar design together with its Rustaveli Avenue location were approved by FTV, although Chkhonia said she is dissatisfied with both the interior and location and would like to make changes as soon as possible. 

     There are special requirements which Fashion Bars must meet: location must be in central street of the city where there are five-star hotels, theatres and many pedestrians. Rustaveli Avenue seemed very suitable, but turned out to be not very appropriate, because the center of night entertainment in Tbilisi is Old Tbilisi and the majority of nightclubbers prefer to go there. 

     "I've never been in Fashion Bar and don't plan to go there. Almost every weekend I spend with my friends on Shardeni Street (in old Tbilisi). I would rather have a cup of tea with my friends than watch FTV, and that I can do at home," said Salome Salukvadze, 21. 

     Chkhonia thinks the location of Fashion Bar is one of the main reasons why her business is not successful. She said Fashion Bar is unprofitable. But there are other important reasons related to financial fees. 

     Each Fashion Bar founder has to pay 19,000 euro ($22,990) in advance as the fee to open a Fashion Bar. FTV officials granted a discount for Georgia as a developing country, according to Chkhonia. A monthly Operator Fee is based on the size of the Fashion Bar and is 1,000 euro ($1,210) for each square meter of guest space. The guest space of Tbilisi Fashion Bar is 260 square meters. According to the financial conditions of the Operator Contract, Georgians should pay $314,600 for 30 months, but FTV officials allowed another discount and Tbilisi Fashion Bar pays $260,000 for 30 months. 

     "When I decided to invest money in this business I knew for sure that the bar wouldn't be profitable for at least three years," said Chkhonia, "Yes, Fashion Bar is not profitable, but somehow it supports itself."
     The revenue for Tbilisi Fashion Bar comes from drinks.
     "I don't come here very often, but when I do, I generally ask for only beer," said Sandro Kakabadze, 23. The girl who was with him was drinking orange juice.
The most-ordered drinks are beer and non-alcoholic beverages, which are the cheapest ones on the menu, said Chkhonia. 

     According to FTV's Web site, which lists conditions for opening a Fashion Bar franchise, the initial contract is for 30 months. But in Georgia, FTV signed a contract for only 24 months. Although 17 months remain, Chkhonia isn't sure she will continue the contract with the same conditions, especially since the Operator Fee is scheduled to be increased by 20 percent every contract. 

     "I have the right to break the contract any time I wish, but I hope I won't have to do it," said Chkhonia. 

     "Maybe I'll resume the Operator Contract after it's expiration date, but I'll probably ask to change conditions and the location of Fashion Bar in Tbilisi."

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