Are you wondering whether it is worthwhile to enter Poland with your brand? Or have you already made this decision and are looking for practical tips? Read our guide to know how to make the process successful.
From this post, you will learn:
- What kind of market Poland is
- What are its advantages and challenges
- What you need to do before you launch in Poland
- What mistakes foreign companies make when entering Poland
- How to choose the right partners, who to associate with
Why enter Poland? Market description
Facts about Poland
- Population: nearly 37.8 million in 2022 (the 7th by population in Europe), plus 2-3 million Ukrainians who have escaped the war that started in February 2022
- Official language: Polish
- Economy and world ranking: GDP US$655.3 billion, ranked 23rd
- Leading sectors by GDP: Service 57.4%, industry 28.2%, and agriculture 2.4% (end of 2020). The most significant growing industry is the business and finance sector. Also, the largest industries include petrochemicals, polymers, automotive, ships, and electronics.
- Main trading partners: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, Czech Republic
- Currency: Polish zloty (PLN)
- Capital: Warsaw
The source of the info:
Advantages of expanding into Poland
- Location: Strategic geographical position for trade with central, eastern, and western Europe
- Employment: cost-effective labor (unfortunately for Poles)
- Workforce: Well-qualified professionals, generally multi-lingual
- Buying Power: Growing consumer base contributing 60% to GDP, exceeding the European Union average
- Business: The World Bank ranked Poland 40th out of 190 nations for ease of doing business in its most recent report
- Technology: Poles have a very positive attitude toward all kinds of technological innovations, e.g. contactless payments and express transfers are natural. All novelties are quickly adopted
- Startups & VCs: The startup ecosystem flourishes, with the local success stories of companies such as CD Project Red (known from the “Witcher” game), Brainly, DocPlanner, Booksy. The VC scene is growing as well – it’s not as mature as in Western Europe, but is leading in Central-Eastern Europe (CEE).
Challenges of the Polish market
- Politics: While the vast majority of Polish society supports the European Union, there are some tensions between the ruling party and the European Commission (e.g. regarding the fund’s distribution); war in bordering Ukraine
- Trading: Regulations covering cross-border trading for imports and exports take more than in other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members
- According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “Some investors have expressed concern about Poland’s lack of legal transparency and predictability, noting that new tax laws and policies are sometimes introduced quickly and without broad consultation, and that the oversized role that state-owned firms play in the Polish economy could create obstacles to long-term growth (according to the Minister of State Assets, companies controlled by the state create 15% of GDP)”
- Poland adopted the Sunday Trade Ban legislation. From 2020 onward the law allows for Sunday shopping only on the two Sundays preceding Christmas, one Sunday before Easter, and the last Sunday of January, April, June, and August of each calendar year.
Are you ready to launch in Poland? Check the LIST
The process of entering the Polish market should begin with a preliminary analysis and a strategy development in consultation with local consulting firms.
Some foreign brands made the mistake of entering the Polish market poorly prepared. One prime example is eBay, which underestimated the strength of its Polish counterpart Allegro. Now, Amazon, AliExpress and Shopee want to stand up to this Polish tycoon, but with many struggles and no final success so far.
Read our previous article to know more about cultural factors and the media landscape in Poland.
You can do the research yourself, but it is often a good idea to ask specialist companies for support. Mind that embassies of your country or chambers of commerce may also be helpful – there are often people there who are willing to provide expertise based on which an entry plan can be prepared.
Information certainly worth gathering to make a decision:
- A list of major competitors, their prices, services as well as distribution channels
- Evaluation of the client’s products’ competitiveness within the researched market
- Research into price levels involving queries to distributors, producers as well as customers of a given product
- Analysis of opportunities, threats, and business environment
- Organisations and potential Partners that could back you up (e.g. embassy, trade organisation, resellers, or consulting firms)
- Draft of a communication launching strategy (e.g. with the local marketing/PR partner).
If you are a more significant player, check a government-led Polish Investment & Trade Agency, which may facilitate your business in Poland.
As part of the preparation ,it is also worth commissioning a reliable local marketing or PR agency to investigate the situation. Of course, they usually have a vested interest in the outcome of such an investigation, but if they are evidence-and data-driven, you can rely on their judgment. An agency can help you make the right decision by preparing information about your competition. However, remember that its analysis will focus on auditing the market’s communications, recognizing its strengths and weaknesses, and market saturation with information and campaigns of your competitors.
Legal form in Poland
Of course, when entering the market you have to decide whether you are opening a branch, operating from outside, or setting up a limited liability company in Poland. Specialized law firms will provide you with comprehensive assistance, which among others, includes:
- registration of the company
- selection of a bank and opening a bank account
- providing an address for the registration of the company
- support in dealing with various public institutions
The most popular choice for foreign companies opening a subsidiary in Poland is to form a limited liability company, (Spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością, abbreviated to Spółka z o.o. o or Sp. z o.o.) The subsidiary is a legal entity, entirely independent of the parent company and is incorporated under the regulations of the Poland Company Act and is registered with the National Court Register (KRS) and the Central Register for Information on Business Activity (CEIDG). Another option is to open a branch.
Branches may also be an option. They are an extension of the parent company and are not a separate legal entity.
For more info you may visit e.g. www.lawyerspoland.eu.
Industry partners in Poland. Select yours
The more the merrier 🙂 It is worth looking around for entities that bring together companies similar to yours. Depending on what industry you are in, there will be different bodies.
For example, if you are a MarTech entity, it is worthwhile for you to meet with representatives of:
If you are an automotive entity, consider membership at the:
- Polish Automotive Industry Association – PZPM
- Polish Alternative Fuels Association – PSPA
- Mobilne Miasto
If you are an eCommerce or fintech entity, such institutions may be of interest:
- Digital Experts Club
- Izba Gospodarki Elektronicznej – e-Izba
- Związek Pracodawców Technologii Cyfrowych Konfederacji Lewiatan
- Forum Technologii Bankowych – Związek Banków Polskich
- Polska Organizacja Niebankowych Instytucji Płatności
- Polski Związek Instytucji Pożyczkowych
Choose your PR agency in Poland
Once the formalities are sorted out – it’s time to choose your local partners in Poland. One of them should be a local PR agency, preferably based in the capital, Warsaw.
Read our previous article to know how to choose a local PR agency
Select your launch event (or organize your own)
There are several viral business events in Poland. For example, if you are an innovative brand or startup – you may consider these:
Other tech events in Europe were covered in the linked post.
The general advice is to attend events specific to your industry – where your competitors will be and the less apparent venues. Your consultancy partner, such as a PR agency, can advise you on these events.