Kazakhstan - Country Commercial Guide
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Retail sales in Kazakhstan is on an upwards trajectory after two years of lackluster performance due to Covid-19-related social restrictions. Kazakhstan ranks 13th on the Global Retail Development Index by Kearney in 2021. The COVID-19 Pandemic hit franchise businesses particularly hard in Kazakhstan due to government-imposed shutdowns, growing unemployment and a dramatic drop in consumer spending among other challenges.  Larger U.S. franchises have survived by optimizing their operational models. Food franchises have seen sales stabilize after resumed operations following government-imposed lockdowns by expanding the food delivery operations. Kazakhstan saw an increase in local delivery franchise businesses with a Finnish delivery platform, Wolt, entering the market to compete with existing Glovo franchise. Kazakhstan also has local food delivery businesses, e.g., Chocofood and Arbuz. During the pandemic, the Russian-based Yandex delivery service entered the market, increasing competition and adding on to its existing food delivery brand Yandex Eda.

Online commerce is gaining momentum, with the volume of online retail sales reaching $1 billion in 2021, and now accounts for 12.2% of the retail market. An increase in broadband internet coverage also pushed online sales up.   This is also reflected in the volume of services in advertising and market research amounted to USD 361.9 million, 62% more in value terms than a year earlier, real growth amounted to 55.2% in the first half of 2021.  Residents of Kazakhstan are purchasing more consumer and  household goods; construction and repairs have increased significantly; food products show a high potential. Food products account for 18% of advertising and marketing expenditures.

Kazakhstan’s economy recovered to 2019 levels in 2021, and output has remained strong so far in 2022.  We expect real GDP to grow by 3.9% in 2022, in line with the forecast mentioned above. The main driver of growth will be a net positive external balance, aided by high global prices for oil and other commodities. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the resulting recession in Russia, have also produced risks to Kazakhstan’s economy. Russia is Kazakhstan’s closest trading partner (bilateral trade turnover reached US$18.2bn in 2020, or about 40% of Kazakhstan’s total imports).  In order to maintain a strong net export position and avoid the logistical hurdles of doing trade via Russia, Kazakhstan is looking to re-direct some of its trade, partly by boosting exports to China and partly via the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, which links Kazakhstan to the Black Sea via Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

The franchising sector in Kazakhstan began to take off in the late 2000s due to a consumer boom and it has since demonstrated steady growth, particularly in the food and retail sectors. There are now more than 350 franchise networks operating in Kazakhstan, most of them located in Almaty, making Kazakhstan the franchising leader in Central Asia. More brands perceive the market as promising, however, retailers are not ready to expand directly and, in general, turn to local partners to help them establish their presence in the region. Hard Rock Café opened its first restaurant in the country in 2014 (but closed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic) and McDonalds and Starbucks launched their outlets in 2016. Starbucks has already opened more than 19 outlets in Almaty and Nur-Sultan and plans to continue the expansion.   The majority of non-American franchises in Kazakhstan are from Russia and Western Europe, mainly the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.

Despite the rapid development of franchising generally in Kazakhstan, several negative factors continue to hinder its growth.  They include weak intellectual property protection, limited access to capital, supply chain disruptions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a lack of understanding of franchising as a business model.  While the government sees franchising as a promising sector that helps diversify the economy and attracts brands with international quality standards, government’s ability to promote franchising is limited by its own poor understanding of the sector.  Commercial banks are actively promoting financing of franchising projects.

Leading Sub-Sectors                                                

According to local experts, franchising is attractive for businesses engaged in sales of business support services (business consulting - audit and accounting services, advertising, HR related services, technical consulting), education services (tutoring, foreign language courses), leisure and entertainment, fast food, medical and cosmetic services, retail sales, and other personal services (laundry, footwear and clothing repair, delivery services etc.)

Notwithstanding the Pandemic, franchise opportunities exist in the following sectors:

  • Fast-food and casual dining;
  • Retail sales (clothing, footwear, furniture, sporting goods, supermarkets, gasoline stations);
  • Auto repair and maintenance services, gasoline stations;
  • Hotel chains for low- and medium-income travelers;
  • Printing and copying services, photo-shops, etc.; and
  • Body/health care services (beauty salons, gyms, etc.)
  • Delivery services


Expect growing demand for education technology, community building online platforms and delivery franchises. Franchises specializing in business education and training services will also see strong demand. Post-pandemic, fast food restaurants are expected to continue to be of great demand for U.S. franchise models.

Consumer profile                                                                                  

According to Kazakhstan Franchising Association, medical services, health-improving treatments, training centers are gaining popularity in franchising sector. Whereas the restaurant business and fast food are going through hard times. Only a limited portion of the Kazakhstani population - mostly young people and the urban upper middle class - is willing and able to dine in food courts and restaurants. Owing to household incomes and a change in consumption patterns, the expansion of the food services segment will be a marathon rather than a sprint.

Kazakhstan has a large young adult population, which makes up approximately a third of the population in 2020. This young consumer base is crucial for fashion retailers to target, as it forms their main customer base. Furthermore, Kazakhstan has a growing number of households that fall into the middle-income segment with a household disposable income of USD 10,000 and above., presenting considerable opportunities in the market. Kazakhstan will see a massive upwards mobility in wealth, with households earning over USD 10,000 increasing from 20% in 2018, to a forecast of nearly 60% by the end of 2022. Therefore, U.S. franchisors should focus marketing efforts on the middle class that would stabilize post-pandemic.

Relationship laws:

  • Franchisor’s Rights:
    • Control the quality of goods and services.
    • Preemptive purchase in the event the franchisee transfers its company.
    • To enter into additional contracts with the franchisee.
    • To act as the franchisee’s guarantor.
    • To terminate and claim damages if the franchisee violates the Agreement.
  •  Franchisor’s Obligations:
    • Provide the franchisee with an operation manual.
    • Train and consult the franchisee as defined in the franchise agreement.
    • Not to disclose confidential information obtained from the franchisee.



For more information contact Commercial Specialist Aliya.Shaikhina@trade.gov