Czech department store takes Chinese name to tempt high spending tourists

One of the Czech Republic’s oldest department stores, Kotva, which is located in downtown Prague, wants to focus more on Chinese clients, its management announced in a press release on Wednesday. The store has even acquired an official Chinese name: gao-te-wa.

Kotva, photo: Kristýna MakováKotva, photo: Kristýna Maková The three Chinese characters in the title are reminiscent of the Czech name Kotva, which means anchor in English. The title was chosen with the help of the Confucius Institute of Palacký University in Olomouc and refers to “exceptionality and high quality”. The department store, owned by the Irish company Markland, will use it in their campaign targeting Chinese customers.

“We chose the same direction as they did for example in London, where important buildings and heritage sites have their official Chinese names”, the general director of the Kotva department store, Jaroslav Petrů, explained.

“We hope that this step with also help us in highlighting Kotva as an interesting architectural site and as a traditional Czech department store for Chinese tourists,” he added.

The importance of Chinese customers for Czech retail has been increasing in recent years. In the third quarter of 2015, Chinese tourists spent more than the Russians, who until then had led the ratings.

In the period between July and September, Chinese visitors accounted for 33 percent of the total spent by non-EU tourists in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, the share of Russian tourists last year almost halved to 16 percent from the previous years’ 31 percent.

In 2014, some 211,000 Chinese tourists arrived in the Czech Republic and according to the estimates of the Czech Association for Tour Operators and Travel Agents, their numbers soared to around 270,000 last year.

The average amount the Chinese visitors spend on their shopping during their stay has increased to 19,400 crowns in 2015, compared to 15,900 in the previous year.

Kotva managed to remain in business despite a huge modern shopping centre, Palladium, opening directly across the street in 2007. In 2014, Kotva’s sales increased by 50 million crowns compared to the previous year to total roughly 800 million.

The Brutalist architectural style department store was opened in 1975 and it was one of the first outlets of its kind in Prague. The building, whose ground plan consists of several interconnected hexagons, was designed by the husband and wife team of architects Vladimir and Věra Machonin, who also designed the Hotel Thermal in Karlovy Vary.

Prague City Hall has recently applied to include the department store in the list of national cultural heritage sites.

Each Sunday, participants will be able to vote in our new series Hit of the Century, covering 100 years of music in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. (More)