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Tesco closes 13 stores in Hungary

January 16th, 2015

A left-wing columnist accuses the government of responsibility for the layoff of five hundred employees as Tesco announces its decision to shut down 13 stores in Hungary. His pro-government counterpart believes that the unprofitable stores are to be closed down in a move of financial prudence and on account of the global problems of the London-based multinational.

Népszava’s Tamás Bihari accuses the Hungarian government of punishing Tesco in order to favour Hungarian supermarket chains. The left-wing columnist quotes the Tesco management which said that the stores which created losses have to be closed down because of the “legislative envisromnent”, which means the extra taxes and the new progressive “food quality control tax” (see BudaPost December 18). Bihari suspects that the compulsory Sunday shop closure will also result in layoffs (see BudaPostDecember 9). He believes what he sees as “discriminatory” and punitive policies are intended to weaken Tesco and other popular supermarket chains in foreign ownership in order to help their Hungarian competitors who, Bihari suggests, are owned by pro-Fidesz businessmen. In conclusion, Bihari wonders if mass layoffs will be announced by other retail chains as well.

The closing down of the Hungarian stores is due to Tesco’s general decline, Ottó Nagy writes in Magyar Hírlap. The right-wing analyst points out that Tesco’s profit has been falling steeply, and the company decided to cut expenses in several countries. Among others, 43 unprofitable Tesco supermarkets are being closed in the UK, and 2 in the Czech Republic, Nagy remarks. He goes on to note that the closing down of 13 stores will have no significant impact on the Hungarian retail market. In an aside, Nagy claims that the Hungarian Left, now so worried about the dismissal of five hundred employees, remained silent when small shops had to close as multinational retail chains appeared in Hungary. Tesco is well known for posing very harsh and unfavourable conditions on all its suppliers, and has been repeatedly fined by the consumer protection authority, he concludes.

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