For the second time, the BPCC in Kraków has organised its Export Forum addressed to Polish manufacturers wanting to export their goods to the UK. The conference took place on 19 May in Novotel Kraków Centrum and gathered over 50 participants from the region and some companies from UK.
Last year broke records in terms of exports of Polish goods and services to the UK, Poland’s second-largest export market after Germany. According to the Polish statistical office, GUS, the value of Polish products sold to the UK last year amounted to 50 billion zlotys, while UK exports to Poland were worth 20 billion zlotys. The value of Polish exports to the UK increased by 14.4% year on year, suggesting that Polish exports are finding a ready market there.
The forum was opened by Paweł Siwecki, the BPCC’s CEO, who outlined the importance of the implementation of export services for the development of the chamber and its members. Urszula Kwaśniewska, the BPCC’s regional director for Kraków, highlighted the nature of the services provided to Polish exports from the Krakow office for the past two years. The service is nationwide. On the basis of commercial queries received and analysis of the demand for products, this year’s forum focused on two sectors -- food products and home furnishings, she said.
The partners of this year’s event were Bibby Financial Services (factoring and trade finance), KMC Services (transport and logistics), Mazars Polska (financial and legal advisory services), Lacrosse Polska (translation and localisation of services) and Adams Law from UK (legal services).
The substantive part of the conference began with a presentation given by Michael Dembinski – the BPCC’s chief advisor who gave some background about the UK economy. Because manufacturing represents only 11% of its GDP (compared to Poland’s 19% or Germany’s 22%), the UK is forced to import ‘above its weight’ in goods. It is the world's sixth-largest top importer, but only the tenth largest exporter.
“Britons have been in a trade dialogue with the world for hundreds of years. Entrepreneurship is part of their national character. The contribution of Polish entrepreneurs is significant too – there are over 21,000 firms established by Poles in the UK. These Polish businesses over there can be useful for Polish exporters looking for agents or distributors”. There are about 800 Polish shops across the UK. But catering to the million or so Poles living there should only be the beginning – the market potential is 64 million consumers. “There are two reasons. British consumers are increasingly seeking out tasty and healthy food. The second factor is price. In the suburbs of London, you can buy Polish apples for two pounds a kilo, in Poland they two zlotys a kilo," said Mr Dembinski. Polish export business has not reached its maximum potential on the UK market yet. One can use the chamber of commerce, which knows the UK market well, and through the expertise of its member companies, provides comprehensive support services for manufacturers.
Marta Smolarek - the BPCC’s export manager, explained the four-stage approach to supporting Polish exporters seeking to enter the UK market:
Getting to know the product and selecting the most appropriate market entry strategy for the client
Identifying and listing potential British partners – agents, distributors or importers
Identifying complementary support services – marketing, legal, translation etc.
Monitoring ongoing cooperation with British partner
The next speaker, Tomasz Rodak from Bibby Financial Services, explained to the participants how to maintain liquidity when exporting by the use of factoring. He has also made the analysis of commercial risk in export and referred to the possibility of analysis of the creditworthiness of the counterparties.
Mr Rodak’s presentation aroused considerable interest, which resulted many questions from the floor and a very good evaluation by participants in the feedback questionnaires. Bibby Financial Services offer Polish exporters’ the liquidity they need by paying them 85% on receipt of the invoice sent to the buyer, and a proportion of the rest on collection of the payment. Bibby’s services can also include insurance, making exporting safer and more certain.
The basics of doing business in England in selected aspects of tax and law were discussed by David James, director of Mazars Poland. In his presentation he focused on:
The different forms of business entity
Financing and investment
Regulations related to employment and social security
Mr James, like other speakers, was available for one-to-one consultations with participants during the second part of the conference.
After the coffee break Maciej Winiarski, director of logistics at KMC Services, explained how to deliver Polish goods to British customers. KMC Services is a family-owned company with Polish capital, engaged in transport, warehousing and logistics projects. Mr Winiarski outlined the main logistics routes to the UK, as well as risks associated with the transportation of goods to the islands. He drew attention to the need for well-trained personnel (this also related to accreditation granted to transport companies) and a good response to threats that arise as a result of the movement of migrants on the routes.
Another issue of importance to exporters that was discussed at the forum was the quality of translation and the correct description (localisation) of the product, addressed to the recipient from a different cultural area. Businesses are getting increasingly aware of the need to ensure perfect translation, which facilities the trade process with English-speaking countries. The UK is the world’s second largest market for interpreting and translating. “It is essential to entrust the execution of a translation to professionals familiar with British consumer habits,” said David Kennedy, director of marketing at Lacrosse Polska.
How to check out a potential British partner and to make sure you don’t get cheated was the subject of the presentation by Sebastian Szulkowski from Adams Law in London. He explained the secrets of verifying the financial credibility of a UK company, and described the types of fraud that can occur on the market. Mr Szulkowski also explained how to enforce contracts and handle civil disputes in the UK.
The next speaker was Marek Schejbal, senior consultant at the BPCC, an expert in the food market with many years’ experience in trade between the UK and Polish. He focused on intercultural communication. In his opinion, trust is they key factor that builds business relationships. “In Britain, the credit of trust is given at the start, while in Poland, confidence in business is gained over time. In Britain, you just have it until you lose it by failure”.
After lunch that was served in the hotel restaurant, guests were divided into two workshop groups. Group A led by Marek Schejbal, focused on food industry, while Group B was led by Michał Łukaszewski, purchasing specialist from Homebase in UK and focused on home furnishings and garden products. The two parallel workshops were a new addition to the export forum, bringing more sector-focused expertise.
In Group A, the issues related to the export and import of food was presented as a two-way trade with the UK, along with a short analysis of the British and Polish markets. This part also discussed the eating preferences of British consumers and their shopping habits.
In Group B explained how today people in UK buy things for their homes and gardens, and what makes for attractive products to British consumers nowadays. Numerous questions were asked by the participants. It was an unique opportunity to discuss certain products and their way in the market supply chain.
To summarise, the British market is becoming more receptive to Polish products, which according to today's market requirements, grows together with quality. The export expansion of Polish business requires the appropriate support to increase its chances of success. Such support can be given by the British Polish Chamber of Commerce Polish and has been available for Polish entrepreneurs for more than two decades.
The BPCC would like to extend the words of thanks to PAIiIZ, the Polish Agency for Information and Foreign Investment, the National Chamber of Commerce and the Business Magazine for giving their patronage to the conference.