A recent expansion of the Dutch company Ahold in the Czech Republic reflects the country’s changing retail market. Ahold, which bought 50 stores from the loss-making Austrian firm Spar, is now set to become market leader, a new situation for the fragmented Czech market. But analysts say more changes are in the pipeline, including customers’ move away from supermarkets to smaller speciality stores.
The South Moravian region will make a new offer to the US-based online retailer Amazon, the region’s governor, Michal Hašek told a news conference in Brno on Wednesday. The announcement comes a day after Brno’s municipal assembly rejected Amazon’s plan to build a distribution centre outside the city. Mr Hašek, of the Social Democrats, did not mention a specific location but said if accepted by the retailer, the project would be approved by regional authorities. The state CzechInvest agency also said it would offer the company alternative locations. Amazon’s planned 2.7 billion crown investment in Brno was rejected over problems with altering the city’s zoning plans. A similar distribution centre for Amazon will be built outside Prague.
Plans for US-based e-commerce giant Amazon to build a second distribution centre on the outskirts of the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, appear to have been thwarted. Other Czech sites are also being offered while Slovakia is also trying to land the investment and the estimated 2000 jobs going with it.
Fragile Czech growth could be wiped out if the Ukraine crisis take a worse turn and sterner sanctions are imposed by the European Union, including the Czech Republic, and Russia retaliates. Exports of Czech machinery and engineering equipment could be threatened and Russian tourists could head elsewhere.
The authorities in Central Bohemia on Wednesday rejected two appeals against a building permit issued to a contractor working for the US-based online retailer Amazon, paving the way for the construction of Amazon’s distribution centre in Dobrovíz, outside Prague. However, construction will only begin after a contract is signed between the municipality and the developer, a representative of the firm said, adding it was impossible to predict whether the deal would be concluded until the end of the month. Amazon is planning to build another distribution centre outside Brno, a project which also provoked opposition from local inhabitants.
The number of self-employed people decreased by 17,000 to 977,000 last year, according to figures by the Czech Social Security Administration. In 2012, the number of entrepreneurs dropped by 8,000. The highest numbers of self-employed people were registered in Prague with 167,000, followed by the Central Bohemia and Moravia-Silesia regions. Self-employed people and small companies with up to nice employees account for 95 percent of all Czech firms and employ over a third of the country’s total workforce, the Czech News Agency reported.
Four central European countries have made a renewed effort to secure imports of natural gas from the United States. Amidst the ongoing Crimea crisis, the Visegrad Group states have appealed to US lawmakers to ease natural gas exports to the region as a way of diminishing its dependence on Russian gas.
Dutch retail chain Ahold is seeking to leapfrog its rivals with the purchase of Spar’s Czech outlets. Ahold has agreed to pay over 5 billion crowns for the 36 Czech hypermarkets and 14 supermarkets operated by the Austrian firm. The extra annual sales of around 15 billion crowns would catapult Ahold from third to first place as the Czech Republic’s biggest retailer. Ahold currently trails Kaufland and Tesco. The deal has still to be approved by the Czech competition office.
On a visit to the Papcel Litovel factory in the Olomouc region, President Miloš Zeman expressed the view that human right issues should not be allowed to stand in the way of business and trade. He said the country’s business interests were sometimes hurt by what he called an excessive emphasis on human rights on the part of Czech leaders, citing the cancelled visit by the president of Uzbekistan as an example. Mr. Zeman said this was a self-defeating policy, noting that since the Ubzbek head of state was not going to visit the country it would not be possible to bring up the issue of human rights face to face. At the same time, the Czech Republic was losing investment opportunities and risking business already underway in the country, the president noted. The Papcel Litovel factory has an eight million dollar investment in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek president recently cancelled his visit to the Czech Republic after the prime minister and the mayor of Prague said they were not willing to meet with him.
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