INDUSTRY: Let them drink water
Information from ČTK states that the consumption of alcohol-free beverages has doubled in the Czech Republic since 1993, to about 220 liters per person annually (mineral and bottled waters recorded the greatest increases). During the last eight years the total production of alcohol-free beverages has multiplied 3.5 times, reaching 22.73 million hectoliters last year. In the first quarter of 2002, the production of alcohol-free beverages in the Czech Republic recorded year-on-year growth of 5%, to 281,220 hectoliters. According to František Mydlil, the secretary for the professional Union of Alcohol-Free Beverages Producers, the Czech Republic is a market with very good prospects for producers of fruit juices and nectars. Per capita consumption in this country of these beverages averages 14 liters per year, while in the European Union it is 22 liters.

Foto: Carrefour

RETAIL: Shoppers prefer hypermarkets
Extensive consumer research by Incoma and Gfk on shopping preferences, relating primarily to large towns, shows that Czech retail is dominated by hypermarkets. Hypermarkets’ market share now stands at 33%, even though last year they were at essentially the same level as supermarkets, which, conversely, have lost 5% of their market share since 2001, standing now at 24%.
Self-service and counter-sales markets are also losing ground. As opposed to their 58% market share last year, this year that figure is only 25%. However, according to the study, there is hope in their case, because they are rated far more positively in the category of staff attitude.
54% of all households in large towns visit shopping centers at least once a week, and another 25% at least once a fortnight. Most visitors (62%) spend one to two hours when visiting a shopping center, and one-fifth of the respondents report spending three hours or more per visit.

LEGISLATION: Bankruptcy continues to haunt courts
According to statistics provided by the justice ministry, in the first half of this year bankruptcy was filed by more than 2,000 firms. This figure is practically the same for the same period last year, but the numbers of declared bankruptcies differ. Last year from January to June, 1,382 firms were declared bankrupt, while in the same period this year there were only 1,167. According to justice ministry spokesperson Iva Chaloupková, this decline is caused by both unsettled cases from the first half of the ’90s, which the commercial courts are constantly pushing back, and by an unwillingness on the part of judges to resolve difficult cases. Then there is the current bankruptcy law. “This law does not fit the times; it fails to ‘copy’ the economy, and it is unable to react swiftly,” Chaloupková explains. A new version of the law is currently in the works, and could come up for debate in the parliament next year. According to Chaloupková, it will incorporate knowledge from countries where similar laws have proven effective.

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