Russian crisis hits Czech marketers

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PRAGUE -- Skoda, food group Cokoladovny and brewer Radegast are among the first marketers in the Czech Republic to report significant threats in overall sales due to the economic crisis in Russia.

Skoda Auto, majority-owned by Germany's Volkswagen, has put previously-announced plans for construction of a production plant in Russia on hold. Skoda had expected to sell up to 7,000 more cars in Russia this year, but now fears it may not even sell one car. Russia has been a bright market for Skoda, where it has been able to sell its Octavia Combi model at twice the price of its domestic market.

The Danone/Nestle joint venture Cokoladovny says its 1998 sales estimates may be hurt by onethird if the crisis continues. Sales orders from Russia for products produced by Cokoladovny--the biggest food producer in Eastern Europe--are already slumping.

Meanwhile, in Hungary, canned food marketer Globus, which sends upwards of 60% of its production to Russia, is saying it is confident it can maintain its yearly sales of $35 million to the country. It says it will have to increase prices on its products, however.

Copyright October 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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