Czech car exports declined by 6% over year ago levels in the first quarter of this year in value terms, to CZK 26.4billion, according to Skoda. Skoda says the decline is mainly due to recessionary conditions in the main export markets - Britain excepted. Exports to Germany fell by 25% in the period.

The strong Czech crown has also been a factor in hampering exports. The strong Czech currency has also led to a surge in imports this year. The value of Imported vehicles rose by more than 25 % against year ago levels. Skoda has a domestic market share of around 50% and will be concerned that rising imports will principally erode Skoda share.

Earlier this month Skoda 're-directed' 4,700 of its workers for a two day brea from the Fabia production line in response to rising inventory.

In the first three months of this year Skoda sales worldwide declined by 9.1% to 107,277 units. The company is banking on a strong second half to 2002, which sees the market impact of the Skoda 'limousine' Superb in Europe.

Skoda has recently downwardly revised its forecast global sales for this year to 458,000 units, from 462,000 units.