Regardless of the problems that the measures related to the coronavirus crisis have brought to the retail segment – with shops in Czechia closed for 234 days, the longest period in all of Europe – new brands keep coming to the local market. Nine of them have arrived or will arrive during the first half of the year, the most prominent one of them being Ireland’s Primark fashion chain whose shop opening was expected with a great deal of anticipation.
This year’s first half has been the strongest in the past three years: six brands arrived in the country during the same period last year, and eight the year before. Some of the shops opening now are ones whose launch was postponed due to the pandemic: Primark, Cinemax and Mr. Jeff were waiting for the situation to stabilise and allow the start of operations.
Jan Kotrbáček, Partner & Head of CEE Retail Agency team, Cushman & Wakefield said: “Retailers are well aware of the enduring potential of Prague’s centre, which has always been and will always be a sought-after tourist destination – and this major part of the local purchasing power will return as soon as it can. The local people’s purchasing power is growing too. Czechia remains the perfect place for retail brands to expand.”
Primark’s success is guaranteed
Ireland’s Primark fashion chain knows Prague’s potential very well and opened its first and largest high street shop in the CEE region on 17 June 2021. To that date, the chain’s other shops in the region have operated within shopping centres – in Poland and in Slovenia, and another one is planned as part of the extension of Bratislava’s Eurovea shopping centre.
“Primark’s launch in Prague is without a doubt the most important new brand entry on the local market in the family fashion and accessory segment – and not just this year but in almost the last 20 years. The last arrival of similar stature was the opening of H&M’s shop in 2003, and prior to that, there were brands such as Zara, C&A, Marks & Spencer and New Yorker. Primark is certain to join successful fashion and accessory retailers with accessible pricing in the Czech Republic. Globally, it has been one of the most successful and progressive businesses in its field, so I believe that it is sure to succeed in the Czech Republic too,” Jan Kotrbáček adds.
Primark’s concept is attractive to customers thanks to a very wide range of products, constantly added new goods, new collections and, most importantly, very attractive pricing. In addition, its shop in the iconic Flow Building directly in Prague’s centre will offer interiors and equipment with a highly attractive architectural design and top-quality workmanship.
“The demand for Primark’s concept and goods will be great without a doubt; Czechs’ awareness of the brand is very good – in fact, many of them cross the borders, shopping for the brand in nearby cities abroad. This means that great interest among customers from all over the Czech Republic can be expected, whether they come to Prague specifically to shop at Primark or just use the opportunity and experience the shop while visiting Prague. The shop is also certain to benefit from foreign visitors since as many as nine million of them come to Prague annually during ‘standard years’,” Jan Kotrbáček adds.
Jan Kotrbáček also expects the Primark shop opening to positively influence the entire location. It will bring many customers to the upper reaches of Wenceslas Square; in fact, he is seeing increased demand among retailers for retail space in close vicinity.
Fashion, high street, Prague
Four out of this year’s nine brands are targeting the high street – the main shopping streets in city centres: three are coming to Prague and one to Karlovy Vary. Five of them will open their outlets in shopping centres – most of them in Prague, and Slovakia’s Cinemax cinema chain in Olomouc. The high street to shopping centre ratio is fairly balanced and has been for a long time.
In line with another long-term trend, most arrivals are in the fashion segment in this year’s first half. Versace opened its shop in Pařížská Street, marking the brand’s return to the Czech market (the brand’s shop used to be at U Prašné brány Street in the past). Opening its first shop in Prague, Dedoles, a Slovak manufacturer of socks, underwear and accessories, has already become a very successful concept: its 2020 revenue amounted to CZK 400 million and it sells goods to 600,000 customers in 20 countries now.
Two newly arriving brands are in the F&B segment: Poland’s Dobro & Dobro Cafe network has opened its first Czech establishment in Prague, as has Motiko, a Japanese dessert retailer. Russia’s Cozy Home is tapping into the trend of popularity for shopping for home equipment and accessories.
2021: more new brand arrivals to come
There are more retail brands that are planning to open their shops in the Czech Republic this year, many of them in the fashion segment, such as Chanel and Balenciaga (both in Pařížská), and Anson’s, Modivo and eObuv.cz in shopping centres; other planned arrivals include the Clever Fit fitness centres.
In all, the number of brands could be comparable to the preceding years – 25 brands arrived in 2020 and 24 did one year earlier.
“I believe that the retail segment will no longer have to endure any restrictions, which have obviously hit it severely, and that new brands will keep arriving on the Czech market at a similar rate as they have to date. I am convinced that brick-and-mortar shops will remain vital for retailers and brands and will continue to enjoy customer demand. While customers have embraced online shopping, they have certainly not turned away from shopping in person. Hence, this remains a crucial part of the strategy for retailers who, in turn, have to offer customers an attractive and unique shop concept, improve customer service and make communication with customers more efficient,” Jan Kotrbáček concludes.
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