In Business News this week: household consumption begins to increase; Czech Republic wins a 1.8 billion arbitration case; fuel prices continue to decline; passenger rail travel goes up slightly in 1H of 2013; e-book sales are expected to double this year; Prague Zoo, ETA are among the best known Czech brands.
Household consumption shows signs of recovery
Czech retail sales registered an annual 0.3 percent decrease in August, after a 4-percent growth registered in July. After working-day adjustment, however, retail sales grew by 1.3 percent year-on-year, and 0.8 percent month-on-month, according to figures by the Czech Statistics Office released on Friday. The seasonally-adjusted sales were mainly driven by the car industry. Analysts believe the latest data suggests the stabilization of household consumption which has begun a moderate recovery.
Czech Republic wins 1.8 billion investment arbitration case
The Czech Republic has won an international arbitration case against the German real-estate developer ECE, the Finance Ministry said. The firm had demanded 1.8 billion crowns, or around 95 million US dollars, from the Czech Republic for allegedly having failed to protect its investment in the country. The developer was going to build a shopping mall in Liberec but the authorities cancelled the building permit after another firm complained it was not included in the process. The firm ECE took the case to a tribunal in Paris which dismissed it. The Czech Republic is facing another nine cases of investment arbitration worth around 20 billion crowns.
Fuel prices continue to decline
Fuel prices in the Czech Republic have dropped for the third week in a row, according to figures by the monitoring firm CCS released on Thursday. The best selling Natural 95 petrol this week sold at an average price of 36.27 crowns, 0.27 crowns cheaper than the previous week. The average price of diesel decreased by 20 hellers to 36.09 crowns. Analysts say that lower prices of oil on the world market have been the main factor behind cheaper fuel.
Passenger rail travel up in first half of 2013
Railways in the Czech Republic saw 88 million passengers in the first half of this year, which was some 900,000 more compared to the same period last year, according to government figures released this week. This was due to an improved quality in rail travel, the arrival of private rail operators, and more frequent connections in suburban areas, observers say. In the whole of last year, passenger rail travel registered a record 8-percent surge. Meanwhile, buses were used by 175 million people in the first six months of 2013, down slightly from the same period last year.
Booksellers expect e-book sales to more than double in 2013
The Czech Association of Booksellers and Publishers expects e-book sales to reach 500,000 this year, which would be more than double than in 2012. Last year, Czechs bought 200,000 electronic books which accounted for 0.35 percent of the country’s book market. The year before, 17,000 e-books were sold in the Czech Republic. Crime fiction, with a share of nearly 28 percent, is by far the best selling e-book genre, followed by fantasy, thrillers and sci-fi. The average price of e-books is 145 crowns, 62 percent of the price of paperbacks. Most e-books in the Czech Republic are sold in the ePub and Mobi formats.
National Theatre, Prague Zoo among best known Czech brands
The National Theatre, Prague Zoo, the hockey club Sparta Prague and the appliance maker ETA are among 25 best known Czech brands, according to a survey by the Czech branch of Superbrands International. In the survey, experts as well as members of the public were choosing from more than 2,000 brands registered in the Czech Republic in various categories. The jury then picked the winners, and also awarded three special prizes: the mobile operator Vodafone received an award for corporate responsibility, the hospital beds manufacturer Linet won an innovations award, and the soft drinks producer Kofola received a prize for social media communication.