A1 rating for Czech Republic in Moody's annual report
In an annual report on the Czech Republic presented this week, Moody's Investors Service left the country's rating unchanged from last year - awarding it an A1 credit-ranking. Likewise, their outlook for the future remained positive. In the review, Moody's commended the Czech Republic on its recent public finance reforms. They predicted that this year Czech GDP will be down on the previous couple of years, but still above the golden 5%. They set inflation for 2007 at 2.9%. Less promising is Moody's forecast for the government's public spending deficit, which it (alongside the Czech Ministry of Finance) sees rising from last year's figure of 2.9% GDP.
Tesco the darling of Czech 'Retailer of the Year' awards
This week saw prizes being handed out to the Czech Republic's 'Retailers of the Year'. At the award ceremony, organized by GE Money Multiservis, Tesco reigned supreme for the third time in four years. The firm picked up best hypermarket, while best supermarket was won by the Albert chain. Teta was voted the best place to buy shampoo or toothpaste, while Obi was declared best gardening and DIY chain. Winners were picked according to market research conducted by Incoma Research, alongside the opinions of a panel of experts. Top on the public's list of retailers was Lidl low-cost supermarket - which won in the discount chain category - while the panel of experts gave Tesco the most votes overall.
Shoplifting costing Czech businesses billions of crowns a year
Meanwhile, research conducted by KPMG and released on Wednesday showed that shoplifting in the Czech Republic was a problem setting Czech businesses back billions of crowns a year. The study found that customers were responsible for 43% of thefts, while staff accounted for 15% of the losses. Last year, the Czech Republic occupied an unenviable first place in an EU poll of countries that suffer the most from shoplifting. While the average losses caused by shoplifting amount to 1.24% of a European firm's annual turnover, this figure is closer to 1.42% here in the Czech Republic. A spokesperson for two of the country's leading supermarkets, Albert and Hypernova, attributed the prevalence of shoplifting in the Czech Republic to the fact that under Czech law, stealing goods worth less than 5,000 CZK (250 USD) is not a punishable offence.
Over a quarter of Czechs own their own business
Also on Wednesday, Hospodarske noviny reported that around one in four Czechs owns his/her own business. A study by Dun & Bradstreet found that there were over 2.4 million firms, cooperatives and freelancing individuals registered in the country. This figure translates into 24% of the Czech population, which ranks the Czech Republic first in Europe when it comes to the ratio of businesses to inhabitants. In neighbouring Austria, the study calculated, around 5% of the populous are registered as having their own businesses, while in Germany, this figure is as low as 3%. The man behind the study, Marek Jurcik, warned people not to read too much into the results as, he said, many more people were registered with employment bureaus than were actively doing business. CSOB analyst Petr Dufek agreed, calling the current situation a hangover from the early '90s, when there was a rush to set up in business, following the fall of communism.
Wine consumption on the increase in the Czech Republic, bucking the European trend
And finally, wine producers have got something to cheer about this week; wine consumption in the Czech Republic is up by a third since 1993, when it stood at 11.5 litres per person per year. On Thursday, Martin Pucek of the Czech Vine Growers and Wine Producers Association, SVCR, predicted that this year, Czechs would be quaffing closer to 17.5 litres of wine each. While this figure is still below the EU average of 32 litres of wine per person per year, consumption in the Czech Republic is growing steadily, in stark contrast to the situation elsewhere in Europe. All in all, not bad for a nation of beer-lovers!