Business News

Photo: Štěpánka Budková

In Business News this week: Czechs are spending much less on their Christmas shopping this year than last; the US has put the Czech Republic on a pirate-goods blacklist; unions claim that Škoda Auto is to cut back operations by three percent, and Czech sport is feeling the effects of the global financial crisis.

Czech Christmas shoppers spending less in 2008

Photo: Kristýna Maková
Friday’s Hospodářské noviny reports that Czech shoppers are tightening their belts this Christmas, with November sales figures down in some fields by up to 20 percent year-on-year. Electronics and toy retailers are amongst the worst hit by the downturn, the newspaper writes. Consumers are waiting for the post-Christmas sales, says Zdeněk Skála from Incoma Research, who also suggests that the sales figures are down because more Czechs are choosing to internet shop, and going on shopping trips abroad.

US puts Czech Republic on pirate-goods blacklist

Photo: CTK
The Czech Republic has been listed on an American roster of countries where sales of pirated goods and fake brands are widespread. The Recording Industry Association of America has called the Czech-German and Czech-Austrian border regions amongst the worst in the world when it comes to the sale of pirated goods. The head of the Czech Trade Inspectorate Marek Ženkl has said that he thinks the situation is not in fact that dire, and has been overblown. Each year in the Czech Republic, hundreds of millions of crowns’ worth of counterfeited goods are seized. Last year, the value of the Trade Inspectorate’s haul was put at 350 million Czech crowns (17.2 million USD).

Press: Škoda Auto to scale back operations by 3%

The Czech Republic’s biggest exporter, Škoda Auto, is to scale down operations by three percent, newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Friday. Union head Jaroslav Povšík told the paper that this would result in nearly 900 job losses. For its part, Škoda Auto is yet to comment on the situation. The carmaker has announced, however, that it will resume production four days later than originally planned, on January 11, following its scheduled closure at the start of next year. Škoda Auto has been badly hit by the strength of the crown hindering exports, and by a weakening of the global car market.

Czech sport hit by financial crisis

Photo: Štěpánka Budková
And the financial crisis is even affecting Czech sport, writes free business daily E15 on Friday. Hockey-team Sparta Prague has already let several members of staff go, while skater Tomáš Verner and skier Zdeněk Šafář have both lost their sponsors. The Czech Olympic Team has also lost its outfitter, Adidas, after years of cooperation, the newspaper writes. In the current economic turmoil, world champion speed-skater Martina Sáblíková also lost her long-term sponsor, but was approached by state-owned insurance company VZP with an extremely lucrative deal. Analysts told the paper that they predicted further problems with sponsors in the coming months.