Tag Archives: Yevgeny Chichivarkin

EDITORIAL: Whither Chichivarkin, whither Russia?

EDITORIAL

Whither Chichivarkin, whither Russia?

Yevgeny Chichvarkin

Yevgeny Chichivarkin

In May 2005, Business Week magazine ran a feature on a young Russian businessman named Yevgeny Chichivarkin.  It reported that while ten years prior Chichivarkin had only a small business “selling clothing and cigarettes at the bustling Luzhniki market in western Moscow” by 2005 he was the co-owner of the third-largest cellphone retailer in Russia, with annual sales approaching $1 billion.  BW opined:  “These young mobile millionaires prove that you don’t have to be a government-made oligarch to succeed in Russia. With a growing middle class, the country offers ample opportunity for entrepreneurs to tap unfilled retail niches.”

Less than a year later, his firm was the #1 retailer and he had won Ernst & Young’s Russian Retailer of the Year Award.  Known for his eccentric clothing and a red Porsche with the license “666” as well as being fined for using profanity in his company’s advertisements, the Moscow Times called him “no ordinary businessman.” Later in 2006, Time magazine reported: “In a corner of his Moscow office, perched beneath a painting of a businessman fondling his half-naked secretary, is an open silver attaché case containing wads of U.S. $100 bills in packs of $10,000. It’s meant as a joke, poking fun at perceptions of Russian businessmen as big-spending bandits.”

By 2007, the eccentric bloom was coming off the notorious rose.  Even though it now had nearly $5 billion in annual sales, over 5,000 branches nearly 40,000 employees, his company had slipped back down to the #3 position in the Russian market.  But Chichivarkin was still full of bluster.  He told Newsweek magazine:  “This country has never seen a company like ours. I have 37,000 employees, and I don’t want to run them the way Russian companies used to manage people. I have a simple logic—make money and teach the person next to you how to make money.”

Alas, for all his bravado the story of Mr. Chichivarkin had soon become all too familiar in the annals of Russian business.

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