Rautakirja Oyj and the French enterprise Hachette Distribution Services SA (HDS) have signed an agreement whereby the two companies will launch cooperation on kiosk trade activities in the Czech Republic. HDS has a company already engaged in kiosk operations in the Czech Republic, which will now increase its share capital through a directed issue in such a way that the company becomes a jointly- owned enterprise with Rautakirja and HDS as the two equal owners.

Collaboration with HDS was launched last spring, when the first pilot kiosk was opened in the Czech Republic. Right down to the name over the door, the kiosk is an almost exact copy of the Finnish R-Kiosk model. This pilot project was explored in order to test the workability of the kiosk concept in a new market area. At present there are three R-kiosks in operation in Prague, and a fourth in the city of Brno.

The jointly-owned company in the Czech Republic operates a total of 109 kiosks, with an estimated aggregate net sales figure this year of rather more than EUR 13 million. The aim in the immediate future is to triple the net sales and to nearly double the number of individual outlets. The majority of the new kiosks will be R-Kiosks, which will thus account for roughly half of the entire chain. The other kiosks are Relay located in railway and metro stations and airports, M- Trafik kiosks located in the Prague metro, and smaller modern stand- alone kiosks in the Prague city center.

HDS is a part of the Lagardère Group, the third-largest media concern in Europe. It publishes newspapers, magazines, and books, and is engaged in press distribution activities, kiosk and multimedia retailing, audio-visual communications, and the aeronautics and automobile industry. HDS has retailing and press distribution operations in 12 European countries, in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Singapore. The Sanoma Magazines division of Rautakirja’s parent company, the SanomaWSOY Group, is the leading magazine publisher in the Czech Republic. The company is strongly placed in consumer periodicals and professional magazines.

Rautakirja carries on kiosk and wholesale press distribution activities in Finland, and also in Estonia and Latvia. The Group enjoys a leading position in these markets. In addition, Rautakirja has bookstore trade activities in Estonia and film screening operations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. At present some 8.3% of total Rautakirja Group net sales originate in the Baltic States.

Rautakirja is a Division of SanomaWSOY.