On top of everything: the network that demonstrates to all of us how to do it right
In 2011, Ziki Ashgai-Irani opened a tiny store with shelves for the sale of fine alcohol.
He also did not know that a decade later he would have an empire of 12 branches.
We dived into the numbers of "Hermitage" and left impressed.
The target for 2025 is 50 branches.
There is reason to believe this will happen
Monday, September 26, 2022, 01:25
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Hermitage branch (public relations)
Drinking alcohol is an experience, or at least it should be.
Whether you're a fan of high-alcohol spirits or quality wine, a fizzy drink from Champagne, Lambrusco, Cava Catalan and even just a chilled bottle of beer with the guys, the goal at social events is always to have a quality drink and enjoy every sip.
A little over a decade ago, in 2011, a tiny store that does not exceed 50 meters was established in the "Ein Hamfaretz" industrial area near Acre by the merchant and distributor of a line of imported Ashgai-Iranian food products.
Among the multitude of products he distributed in the northern region, several shelves designed for the sale of fine alcohol stood out in genius, as it is not the leading motif of the store nor of the distribution line.
However, Ziki decided that drinking together with some friends can turn a grueling work day into a pleasant experience.
In the afternoons he would close the store and turn it into a meeting place for him and some of his close friends, and they would enjoy themselves and drink a few drinks every day, thus ending another day's work with pleasure and a smile.
The decision to close the store for activity starting at dusk and take out part of the merchandise for the sake of enjoyment resulted in a financial expense that Ziki was willing to absorb, even if it was a loss that reached several tens of thousands of shekels a month.
Luxurious and inviting.
Hermitage branch (photo: Oded Smeder)
In 2014, Ziki Hassan's son decided that he eliminated the order of pleasure only from drinking alcohol, and there is an opportunity here to promote a real business specializing in selling alcohol at reasonable prices in a place that provides an experience.
First, he chose a name for the place - the Hermitage, after a region in France where wine is produced, and also a chain of museums that present exhibitions from around the world.
The idea was to connect drinking alcohol to the cultural issue, which was not very acceptable in Israel.
Hassan, who understood the subject of marketing, developed the store and designed it as a place that radiates prestige.
The volume of drinks sales increased in the store and it was necessary to continue to grow, for that you need more space.
In the nearby store in the center in Ein Hamfaretz, a 270-meter location became available and thus the first branch of the chain was built, which is dedicated entirely to the sale of alcohol.
When building a network plan, it is necessary to understand the numbers - a long-term lease, beverage inventory and commitment to suppliers, the design of the place and the creation of a fixed language in order to transmit uniformity, all of these variables are not always taken into account by people with dreams of establishing a network of some kind.
In addition, an important commodity that many fall into is patience alongside running to promote the business.
The Ashgai-Irani family internalized that this is a marathon and not a sprint at the end of which you can crash.
For the professional theme, Dror Khangari, a first-class professional specializing in wines and alcohol products, with decades of experience in the field, was added to the network.
He is the professional advisor and the one who gave his INPUT regarding the different types of drinks that are in the chain stores.
At the beginning of the journey, the first branches were established in the northern area, where the family's home is located and it is possible to have a daily control over the traffic and feel the clientele, from their consumption habits to the different and preferred types.
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Ziki Ashgai Iranian (Photo: Yehats)
The establishment of a small to medium Hermitage branch costs approximately NIS 600,000 to 1 million, and this is without the inventory, which is an establishment that is not related to the lease, but primarily to the renovation, design and setting up of the branch.
To all this must be added an initial expenditure on inventory for the store, amounting to between one million and two million shekels.
In 2017, it was decided to establish the flagship branch in the north of the Hermitage, which at that time was already a chain of stores.
1000 meters were rented at the congress center in Haifa.
The luxury store offered another layer - a luxury cigar room adjusted in temperature to preserve the cigars.
Experts and connoisseurs from Haifa and the surrounding area visit quite a few the niche assigned to the cigar room, because it is known that a good cognac or aged whiskey always goes with a Cuban or Dominican cigar in the other hand.
The economic significance of such a branch?
The cost of construction, design and planning ranges from NIS 5 to 7 million, and this is even before the store's inventory.
We are talking about a quantity of goods that does not fall under the duty free in Israel and in other cases even exceeds it. The initial cost for the stock of a large branch reaches NIS 3 million.
The source of inspiration.
The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, one of several online museums (Photo: ShutterStock)
Today, towards the end of 2022, the chain already has 12 branches that are divided into different sizes, and from the owner's point of view it is clear that there is still room for aspiration.
Less than a year ago, the flagship branch was established in the central area, in Rishon Lezion.
Again, about 1000 meters were allocated and, as in Haifa, there is also a cigar room here, except that two new aspects have been added - a niche for the Jerusalem dairy delicatessen chain "Basher", and on the studio floor, which is divided into two, there is also a spacious meeting room.
Businessmen frequent the place and you could meet some members of the Knesset sitting in the room in private meetings.
When the chain's branches generate about NIS 150 million a year, it is certainly possible to understand Hassan's vision, who wants 50 Hermitage branches by 2025, from the north to Eilat.
We will see if and what of this ambition will come true.