Imported goods can enter Madagascar via air at Antananarivo’s Ivato International Airport or via sea at the ports of Toamasina (East), Mahajanga (West), Antsiranana (North), Toliara (South-West) and Fort Dauphin (South-East). Approximately 80 to 90 percent of containerized imports and exports transit through the country’s largest port at Toamasina. Products are then distributed by road, river, sea, or rail throughout the country. Distribution is often handled by the importing company or by wholesalers and retailers. Roads are poor across much of the country; some areas cannot be accessed by road during the rainy season (from December to March). U.S. distribution and sales channels have no presence here, but they can tap into established marketing networks to start with.
Eight major retail chains (grocery and home appliances) have a multi-city presence in the country. They are French (Score, Leader Price, Supermaki), South African (Shoprite), Chinese (Horizon Ivato/Sogecoa), Mauritian (Cosmos), and local (Kibo cash and carry, AAA-MAGRO, Shop Liantsoa), and distribute both local products as well as goods and brands sourced from several foreign countries.
Three chain stores - Sanifer, ABC Construction, and Bricodis - dominate the import and distribution of hardware and building materials. They are owned by wealthy families that migrated to Madagascar from India and Pakistan over the last century. Though franchising is hardly a common marketing practice in Madagascar, a franchising network named “Binastore” which distributes branded cement (Holcim and Lafarge) and building materials to wholesalers and retailers has seen rapid portfolio growth.