In Business News this week: Czech industrial production speeds up; most Czech companies want to hire employees as contractors; Saturday shifts at Škoda Auto end over labour dispute, the North American brewing giant Molson Coors buys Staropramen; and Prague’s Ruzyně airport marks 75 years since the first landing.
Industrial production speeds up
The Czech Republic’s industrial production rose by 4.7 percent in February, after January’s revised increase of 3.1 percent, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. Compared to the same month last year, industrial production rose by 0.3 percent but the extra working day due to the leap year was a factor as well.
The surge was driven mainly by the automotive industry which rose by 15.4 percent; the production and distribution of electricity, gas and heat increased by 7.8 percent and electrical machinery and equipment rose by 12 percent. However, the construction industry registered the sharpest fall in two years when it decreased by 16 percent year-on-year.
Czech foreign trade surplus rises
The Czech foreign trade surplus in February rose to 28.7 billion crowns, or more than 1.5 billion US dollars, the Czech Statistical Office said on Friday. Czech exports last month rose by 15.2 percent while imports increased by 8.8 percent. Analysts say the increase was higher than expected, and was mostly driven by demand from all regions of the world including the Euro zone.
Most Czech companies want to hire employees as contractors
Most Czech companies want to hire employees as contractors, suggests a new poll by the Deloitte and Ambruz & Dark consultancies released on Thursday. Some two thirds of the 107 companies polled said they would like to see the so-called švarcsystém completely legalized under which firms hire employers as contractors to avoid paying health and social insurance for them. Some 67 percent of the firms said they wanted a clearer definition of the system to avoid fines by the authorities. New sanctions were introduced in January for companies which use the system which they say threatens to send them into bankruptcy; the Czech authorities are planning to carry out more than 200,000 inspections to fight the practice.
Saturday shifts at Škoda Auto end over labour dispute
Saturday shifts at the Czech Republic’s biggest carmaker, Škoda Auto, will end due to a labour dispute. The labour unions and the management have not reached a deal concerning a new collective agreement which no longer applies to Saturday shifts. The unions want a 6-percent salary increase for the employees while the firm offers 4.3 percent. A series of employees’ meetings is planned for next week in the firm’s three Czech plants to step up the pressure. The unions said they were also considering a warning strike in support of their demands.
North American brewing giant Molson Coors buys Staropramen
The US-Canadian brewing giant Molson Coors bought StarBev, the owner of the Czech brewer Staropramen. The 3.54 billion-dollar deal was announced on Wednesday. Staropramen is the Czech Republic’s second largest beer producer; the StarBev Group also owns breweries in Serbia, Romania, Hungary and other Eastern European countries. Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn said the acquisition was in line with their strategy of expanding their portfolio and the beer market in Central and Eastern Europe had a great growth potential. In some countries, however, the deal is yet to be approved by the local antimonopoly agencies.
Prague’s Ruzyně airport marks 75 years since first landing
Prague’s Ruzyně international airport on Wednesday marked 75 years since the start of operations. The airport was inaugurated with a domestic flight from Piešťany, Zlín and Brno which landed there on April, 5 1937. Since then, the airport has served over 200 million passengers and dispatched more than four million flights. Last year, Prague Ruzyně handled nearly 11.8 million travellers ranking 35th in Europe and first among new EU countries by passenger traffic. Earlier this year, the Czech government agreed to rename the airport in honour of the late president Václav Havel; the change should take effect on Václav Havel’s birthday on October 5.