Gold rush on D1: pumps are rolling restaurants and betting on electric cars

The pandemic has significantly accelerated the growth of e-commerce, which is reflected in the lack of storage capacity. “Our clients are therefore forced to look for locations for warehouses further from the capital. They focus mainly on motorway routes, especially on the D1, “says Markéta Vrbasová, director of industrial and logistics at the Knight Frank real estate consulting company.

Lack of capacity – vacancy on the Czech market is only around 2.5 percent – combined with growing demand for warehouses and more expensive building materials are driving up rental prices. The increase is especially noticeable at the exits from the “déjednička” around large cities.

The monthly amount of rent in warehouses along the D1 ranges between 4.5 and 4.9 euros, roughly from 115 to 125 crowns, per square meter. However, the premises of developers P3, CTP or GLP located closer to Prague cost tenants up to 6.5 euros.

The question is whether, for example, logistics companies trading with low margins can pay such rents in the long term, Vrbasová points out: “Localities further from Prague on the D1, such as Ostředek, remain an alternative. We expect construction to extend to virtually all motorway exits that offer suitable land and available manpower within driving distance. ”

The developer UDI Group, for example, invested one billion in the new logistics complex. The four halls stand at the 34th motorway exit and are already three-quarters full. The capacities will be used, for example, by the Nagel-Group, which provides food logistics, or by the Czech logistics operator WeDo.

The D1 network also benefits from gas station networks. However, their business does not end with the printing of refueling receipts. The stations have gradually pushed out classic restaurants and are increasingly betting on their own gastronomy.

In addition, he sees another great potential in the expected onset of electromobility. On the one hand, in the operation of the network of charging stations, and on the other hand, in the offer of more diverse rest areas – not only for drivers who spend significantly more time at the stations while charging electric cars than when refueling petrol or diesel.

“We see potential for further expansion on D1. In the future, therefore, we will be involved in possible tenders from the Directorate of Roads and Motorways, “says Michal Procházka, spokesman for Orlen Unipetrol. The petrochemical holding operates nine Benzina Orlen filling stations on D1. “We want to focus more on highways and significantly expand our gastronomic offer,” adds Procházka, adding that visitors will find dishes from Czech classics to international cuisine.

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“The station business will strengthen greatly with the advent of electromobility. Drivers recharge their car and spend more during that hour. A new space is also opening up for the entertainment and leisure business focused on children, among other things, even though we are only at the beginning, ”says Václav Stárek, President of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants. He reminds us that gas stations together with fast food restaurants have managed to completely push classic restaurants out of the D1 in recent years.

“An interesting phenomenon is emerging, people are willing to pay eighty crowns for a baguette, but they are surprised that they have to pay 110 for goulash in a restaurant. The cost of the kitchen is incomparable,” adds Stárek.

The growing importance of D1 in business in the future is also expected by the fast food networks KFC and McDonald. “This year we plan to strengthen and open another restaurant in Ivanovice on the D1 in the direction of Brno. Expansion into smaller cities and along major road and motorway routes is also crucial for us due to the further development of KFC Rozvoz and other digital innovations, ”explains Libor Hubík, KFC’s Director for the Czechia, Austria and Germany.

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While KFC opened the first restaurant in Antošovice on D1 “up” in 2008, rival McDonald’s opened its first branch in December 1993 in Velké Meziříčí at the 145th kilometer in the direction of Prague. He then added several more, most notably in 1997, when he opened three restaurants. Another, and so far the last, McDonald’s on D1 was formed in 2010 at the 66th exit.

“We are still looking for suitable locations on the D1, or at the exit for new restaurants,” confirms the financial director of McDonald’s CR and SR Ivana Prosecká. The bet on D1 is not hindered by the loss of sales in the order of hundreds of millions of crowns, which the “softener” lost due to the closure of highway sections in recent years.

While restaurants are set to increase, there is a long-term shortage of parking spaces and parking spaces for trucks, and there are no ramps where drivers would sweep snow and ice off their sails. “Instead, snow and ice fly on trucks behind trucks. Damage to the hood or windows of a car is the least problem, “concludes Igor Sirota, spokesman for the Central Automobile Club of the Czech Republic.

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