24 (119) 2016
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British Investment

How the BP brand played a part in the history of Polish transformation

by Piotr Pyrich, general director of BP Europa SE, Polish Branch
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Twenty-five years ago BP became involved in the process of setting standards for premium fuel stations in Poland. Today, retail sites have evolved into small hubs serving drivers.

BP’s history in Poland can be summarised as follows: over 500 service stations, innovative convenience range, a $1.5 billion investment and a strong belief that the future of service stations will be determined by drivers.

Quantum leaps

For BP, 2015 was marked by a number of historic moments. In August we celebrated the 20th anniversary of opening the first BP fuel station in Poland, in December we opened our 500th station, and this year BP is going to celebrate 25 years of operations in Poland. During our time together, we have accomplished a lot and the BP brand has played a part in the unique transformation of the Polish economy. I am particularly proud of that contribution and the share we have had in creating a modern fuel market which operates according to standards we have helped to develop and implement.

Our company has and still wants to contribute to Poland’s development, opening several dozen service stations every year which translates into more than $1.5 billion invested in Poland since establishing our presence here. Most of those funds have been paid to Polish companies, hundreds of which have worked with BP over these years. The company has left its mark on the Polish economy, being ranked among the 15 largest companies in Poland. Over these years, we paid more than 10 billion zlotys to the state budget in VAT, excise duty and fuel tax. We employ directly and indirectly 3,500 people.

Being a member of a number of industry organisations, BP strongly supports all initiatives targeting the issues emerging on the Polish fuel market, including biggest one – illegal operations.

We would not be doing that if the market were not developing so rapidly and offering such exciting prospects for the future.

History of changes

Poland has significantly transformed over the last 25 years. BP’s history in Poland also involves constant changes. We started operations in this country in 1991 by running an office which sold automotive and industrial oils. We opened our first petrol station in Gliwice in 1995. Over the years we have been improving our customer proposition, implemented world-class solutions and innovative projects. We believed in our success in Poland, and time has proved us right. For 25 years we’ve been the leader among foreign oil companies, having built a network of over 500 company-operated and dealer-operated fuel stations. Castrol is an important part of BP, as is the Lotos–Air BP joint venture. We no longer engage in LPG trade and bitumen production, but we made successful investments in that market and that was a vital element of our 25-year long history.

We have used our global expertise and – by improving the quality of products and services – we have helped to raise the standards across the entire fuel industry. Many ideas we introduced were first considered almost revolutionary and now are included in the regular offer of all the remaining fuel operators. BP pioneered a number of changes on the Polish market such as discontinuing leaded fuels and launching premium BP Ultimate fuels, providing vapour recovery on all stations, using double-wall fuel tanks as a standard solution from the very beginning in 1995, implementing HACCP, building the largest network of touchless and automatic car wash stations, offering the BP PLUS fuel card with an increasing number of options for fleet operators, launching the prepaid gift BP SuperCard, serving excellent coffee and a variety of dishes at Wild Bean Cafés and selling fresh flowers 24 hours a day at selected BP stations. All these changes hugely contributed to improving the standards of service across the entire fuel industry.

We have earned the trust of Polish customers. Every day thousands of drivers arrive at our stations to fill up their vehicles with top quality products. I’m sure they also appreciate that we never stop developing our convenience offering. Following our customers’ needs is our priority. It’s the drivers who will set future trends and directions for change of our fuel stations.

Our company, which has operated responsibly on the Polish market for a quarter of the century, launched innovative solutions to support social partners and enable customers to donate the points collected under the loyalty programme to charitable causes. BP was the first oil company to combine a marketing loyalty scheme with a charity initiative when it established the BP Partnerclub programme in 2000. Since September 2009, customers have collected points using their PAYBACK card when shopping or using services of a number of partners and now may donate them to a charity initiative called Pajacyk, which provides meals to needy children in and outside of Poland. In 2015, we started yet another innovation and extended the PAYBACK programme to include other social partners – Siemacha Association, St Lazarus Hospice (Fields of Hope programme), TOPR – the Tatra Mountain Rescue Service and Wiosna Association (Szlachetna Paczka, Akademia Przyszłości). In total, we have spent a total of $10m on social initiatives in Poland since 1996.

Promoting best market practice, innovative solutions, products and services, working with business and social partners and developing talents are BP’s key strengths.

Effects of running business in Poland for 25 years

By the end of 2015 we had opened 501 fuel stations. As far as the number of BP retail sites is concerned, Poland occupies fourth place, right after Germany, UK and Spain. All our stations are premium sites offering a wide range of fuels and convenience items. The retail offer is expanded to accommodate ever-rising customer expectations and to ensure optimum efficiency of stations. The share of shop items in total sales is growing steadily, as is the number of customers who visit the station only to shop for convenience or food products or wash the car. With business customers on our mind, we are expanding the fuel card options. BP PLUS Routex is one of the most advanced fuel cards in Poland. It not only helps you optimise the working time, it also enables you to reduce operating expenses. It is accepted by over 18,000 stations all over Europe. We launched a new exciting card option for lorries and buses which is available in Poland and other European countries. Our key strengths also include car wash facilities. At present we operate the most modern and largest network of automatic and touchless cash wash stations. We keep improving and modernising them to meet the growing demands of our customers. At several dozen retail sites, we opened the state-of-the-art automatic Car Wash Premium stations with additional functionalities, improved wash options and better washing quality relative to standard facilities.


Twenty-five years of BP operating in Poland means millions of customers, thousands of business partners and employees. Without them, BP would not have been where it is now. I would like to thank all – everyone has helped our company grow.


Over the last 25 years we have amassed a unique collection of awards for various accomplishments, including awards for fuels and stations, BP PLUS cards, services, awards for Lotos-Air BP, awards for a reliable company, responsible business and master of brand and image. Our collection of awards now totals around 50 items! BP fuel stations are awarded distinctions in competitions, evidence that we closely follow what the market needs. Our most recent spectacular win was seizing awards in five out of nine categories in the 2015 Fuel Station of the Year competition.


I'm proud of BP’s position on the Polish market, but nothing can be taken for granted. Ready-made solutions are no longer sufficient. A new and innovative approach is called for. Transparency of operations and quality are becoming increasingly important. As in previous years, we’ll continue on our path of steady growth. This is a proven way of doing business which guarantees the highest quality of service to customers and secures the position of a reliable partner on the market. We’ll keep building new petrol stations, both company-operated and dealer-operated. We’ll also be looking to build our sites on motorways and express ways – this is an important part of business for a fuel company as these sites have an enormous potential. The pace of investment will depend on a number of factors.

When planning our operations, we closely watch market trends. Based on our observations, a number of things is certain: the development of the European fuel market will be determined mostly by long-term trends in the automotive industry, and the pace of development of public transport and alternative means of transport used by citizens of different countries. The convenience range is becoming increasingly important. The retail market offers good prospects in terms of growing income and profits. BP will keep expanding the aviation fuel business through our joint venture with Lotos. Engine oils show an upward trend on the Polish market, and the Castrol brand is consolidating its position as the top fuel engine brand in Poland. Castrol’s market share is growing steadily and for the past two years we have been the unbeatable leader in this category.

As we are planning the next 25 years in Poland we know we’ll be consolidating our position by addressing our customers’ needs in ever more exciting and challenging times. We’re ready for this.

On 20 April, after five years of development we've introduced our newest fuels with Active technology. Designed to complement the very latest, high-spec engine technologies as well as benefitting older vehicles, BP fuels with Active technology have proven dirt-busting properties.

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