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SPAR food store chain at war with the government

March 27th, 2024

Opinions diverge on the conflict between the Dutch-based food retail chain and the Hungarian government.

‘SPAR will pay a price for its baseless and unfair accusations against Hungary’, Economic Development Minister Márton Nagy said on Monday, after his meeting with SPAR Hungary’s CEO whom he asked to produce evidence of the charges levelled against his government by SPAR International’s boss. Hans Reisch said in interviews with the German and Austrian press that government representatives asked for a stake in the retailer to resolve SPAR’s complaint over the windfall profit tax introduced during the COVID pandemic. Spar has filed a complaint against that tax with the European Commission.

On Klubradio, Péter Rózsa accused the government of nurturing a plan to take over some of the international food chain networks in order to then pass them over to its acolytes. They have already bought a TV Channel, an electric power station and an internet and telephone provider as part of that scheme, and now it is the retailer’s turn, he said.

On Telex, Gábor Brückner doesn’t believe that SPAR’s CEO simply lied when speaking of approaches made by people linked to the government. However, he quotes insider sources who affirm that no decision has been made to take over SPAR. Meanwhile, Brückner warns that international retail chains are way more efficient and popular than their Hungarian competitors.

Mandiner agrees with Cabinet Minister Márton Nagy who attributes SPAR’s complaints to its poor management. In fact, SPAR Hungary has accumulated growing deficits over the past two years, he writes, but strangely enough, another (German-based) chain, Lidl is thriving. Mandiner also remarks that the European Commission found Hungary’s windfall taxes to be in conformity with EU law.

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