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In this week’s Business News: Škoda Auto sees car rent revolution; private rail operators target Slovakia; lower takings for Tesco tills; Brno belatedly courts Amazon; and ovine sales surge over Easter.
Škoda to launch long-term rentals on Czech car market
The biggest Czech car seller Škoda Auto is planning to revolutionize the country’s market by offering long-term rentals of their vehicles, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported this week. In collaboration with Škofin, a Škoda-affiliated leasing firm, the carmaker wants to first focus on renting out top-end models before extending it to the rest of its range. The contracts will be based on monthly fees, annual mileage, and the length of the period after which the car will be replaced; clients will not have to worry about regular safety inspections of the vehicle or insurance. A spokesman for Škoda said the firm is still finalizing details of the new service which should be launched in the coming weeks.
Two Czech passenger train operators to expand in Slovakia
Two private Czech passenger train operators, RegioJet and Leo Express, announced this week they were planning to expand to Slovakia. Leo Express wants to extend its Prague-Ostrava route to the eastern Slovak city of Košice in December. RegioJet, meanwhile, wants to start operating four trains in each direction on Slovakia’s major Bratislava-Košice route, also in December 2014. Local experts are sceptical about the profitability of the Czech firms’ planned Slovak operations but RegioJet boss Radim Jančura said his company’s costs were 30 to 40 percent lower than those of the Slovak state rail operator, ZSSK.
Tesco’s sales dropped last year by 4.4 percent
Tesco’s sales in the Czech Republic dropped last year by 4.4 percent, the company said in a press release this week. In 2013, Tesco’s sales reached 44 billion crowns, and the firm posted a 1.12 billion loss. The country’s second largest retail chain did not reveal detailed information of its performance last year; however, the report suggests that its investment into new service and renovating 70 of its stores across the country failed to increase its revenues, the news website ihned.cz said.
Brno belatedly approves Amazon distribution centre
After three rejections to sell land for an Amazon distribution centre on the outskirts of Brno, the city’s councillors on Tuesday approved the deal despite the fact that Amazon had announced it was no longer interested in the location. The developer CTP Invest, hired by Amazon to build the facility, however hopes the US e-commerce giant will change its mind, and the project will continue. For that to happen, however, Brno City Hall would also have to approve changes to the city’s zoning plan currently makes no allowances for a logistics centre to be built in the location. Amazon was planning to spend some 2.7 billion crowns in Brno, creating around 1,500 jobs. The company is also planning to build a similar facility outside Prague.
Besides Easter, demand for lamb and goat meat remains marginal
On average, Czechs consume between 0.3 and 0.4 kilos of lamb and goat meat per year, far less than the 40 kilos or so of pork which remains by the far the most popular type of meat on Czech menus. However, demand for lamb and goat jumps during the Easter holidays when many families sit down to the traditional roast lamb. A spokeswoman for the Makro supermarket chain told the news agency ČTK that during Easter, they sell three times as much of lamb and goat compared to the rest of the year. Czechs’ appetite for goat milk and cheese has nevertheless doubled since 2001; last year, farmers in the Czech Republic produced 165 tonnes of goat cheese.