The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is becoming a shareholder in the Czech online retailer Velka Pecka s.r.o. to support a business that has gained critical importance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company was established in 2014 and rapidly became the leading online grocery retailer in the Czech Republic, operating under the brand name Rohlik and offering a unique service. The pandemic has turned what was until recently seen as a convenience into what is now very often a necessity: during public health restrictions and lockdowns, online food retail has become a lifeline for many customers.
Building on the successful establishment of its business, Velka Pecka is now seeking to expand its operations in Hungary, and to enter the Romanian market and other countries where the EBRD invests.
This will not only offer customers more choice, but also benefit local suppliers as the company combines a unique product assortment with an emphasis on local, artisanal, healthy and organic food and a high level of service. In addition, the firm is championing a more sustainable food chain and supporting local food producers and artisans.
The expansion of Velka Pecka will also boost labour market opportunities. The company will introduce training for more than 600 young women and men in Hungary and Romania. Velka Pecka will also promote female talent in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and management, by targeting gender parity in these roles as well as in training.
Natalya Zhukova, EBRD Director, Agribusiness, said: “We are very proud of this investment, which addresses several pressing issues we are facing today. With the provision of equity the EBRD is making a long-term commitment to a young and dynamic company at a time when access to finance is often challenging. The expansion of online retail is a direct response to the huge disruption that the coronavirus pandemic is causing. And creating training opportunities for young people is essential at a time when labour markets are increasingly coming under strain.”
“We expect that our activities will kick-start the market and force all players in the retail industry to accelerate. We are not focused on delivering a small basket very quickly like other firms in the market, but on fulfilling the real needs of families in Europe,” added Tomáš Čupr, founder and CEO of Rohlik Group, on the expected impact of the Group’s expansion activities in the retail market.
Supporting agribusiness is a key part of the EBRD’s activities and the Bank is strengthening the sustainable and inclusive development of the sector through a combination of investment and policy engagement.