The Office for the Protection of Competition on Friday approved the takeover of 22 Tesco locations in north Moravia by the Czech retail chain Hruška. Tesco Stores ČR acquired the network in 2011 but decided to sell them earlier this year. The firm, which operates 230 stores, 19 gas stations and seven department stores in the country, posted a loss of more than a billion crowns in the past fiscal year. Hruška, meanwhile, runs one of the largest Czech retail networks, and reported a profit of 131 million crowns last year.
Czechs are increasingly interested in discounts and 40 percent of Czech households study retailers´ flyers and compare prices before shopping for food, according to the results of a poll conducted by Incoma GfK. This is the highest number since monitoring started in 1997. The popularity of discount shops is on the rise, while interest in small shops is decreasing. Twenty-five percent of households say they shop exclusively at discount stores, 17 percent cite supermarkets, and only 12 percent of households said they buy food mainly in smaller shops, the lowest share since 1997.
Despite predictions that the Czech economy would emerge out of its longest recession on record in the second half of 2013, the recovery has so far been only sluggish. Third quarter figures have even suggested the chances of another dip. But Jan Bureš, the chief economist for Era Poštovní spořitelna, believes the recovery is tangible and based on stabilized domestic demand and increasing exports. The emerging coalition’s pledge to increase public investment will be a key factor behind the return to growth in 2014, according to Mr. Bureš.
Czech internet shops saw an increase in sales this Christmas season. Some online stores registered a year-on-year growth for the holiday season of around 40 percent. Others saw a weaker increase, but all the biggest e-shops confirmed that this Christmas was more successful than last year, and holiday shopping began earlier, due to the central bank’s intervention against the crown, which began in November. The biggest internet retailer in electronics, Alza.cz, announced that the three strongest days, in terms of sales, were between December 16 and 18. Total daily sales were approximately the same for Alza each of those days, reaching way above 100 million crowns.
The High State Attorney in Prague has charged 12 people over contracts awarded by the Czech government during the country’s EU presidency in 2009, state attorney Tomáš Černý said. The prosecutors say that contracts for audiovisual services, awarded to the firm Promopro during the six-month period, were overpriced by 338 million crowns. Among those charged with manipulating public tenders and abuse of office are three former close associates of Alexandr Vondra, who was deputy prime minister for European affairs when the alleged offences took place. Mr. Vondra himself has not been charged.
Businessmen Daniel Křetínský and Pavel Tkac have confirmed buying the Ringier Axel Springer CZ group. The value of the group which publishes the Czech Republic’s best-selling tabloid Blesk, the weekly Reflex, and a daily sports newspaper among others, has been estimated at 4.7 billion crowns (170 million euro). In a statement for journalists the group’s new owners said their main task would be to address the address the problems facing print publishers.
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