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Looking beyond Brexit - inward investment to Poland

Influx of new investment into Poland: key factors behind business location decisions

By Jan Banasikowski, CBRE Advisory & Transactions, CBRE
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Foreign investor interest in Poland and the CEE region has gathered considerable speed over the past several months. At the same time, changes are taking place in terms of the scope of requirements and the general characteristics of the analysis process for new business project locations. Poland is fast becoming one of the main beneficiaries of those changes (go to CBRE’s Market Outlook 2021 report to read more about it).

Influx of new foreign investment.

There are currently several directions from which investor enquiries are coming in with regard to the potential held by Poland and its regional cities. First of them are investors considering relocation of business processes from Asian countries that have hitherto successfully competed with Europe, in particular in terms of business service outsourcing. However, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and riding on the wave of the increasing popularity of remote working, investors from Asia are now looking towards our part of Europe more often and more willingly. The main reason for their increased interest is the high quality of the accessible infrastructure and the availability of workforce that not only holds the right experience and qualifications, but has also proven to be highly effective working remotely and in the hybrid work model. Poland’s advantage over the other countries in the CEE region lies in its experience in providing services from the modern business service area, particularly in terms of the scale of the business, the level of complexity of the processes supported, as well as the high-quality ICT and office infrastructure. Moving new processes to Poland is a deliberate decision on the part of Asian organisations (and those with foreign capital that have their service centres based in Asia), as demonstrated by the fact that some of these entities are already operating in Poland, and they are now considering expansion of their activities into the country’s other regional cities.

As far as the number of new foreign investment projects considered towards the end of 2020 and at the beginning of 2021 is concerned, Belarus is leading the way as the direction from which most enquiries are being made. Due to the country’s political situation, numerous foreign investors took the decision to immediately relocate their business operations to other countries in the region and those within the EU. Poland’s geographical proximity to Belarus means that it quickly became the main direction taken into consideration by investors, all the more so because the nature of the projects moved often requires for some of the staff to be relocated too. The quality of life in Polish cities, along with the available infrastructure and transport links, are the key factors driving the moves, where particularly high interest is being shown in locations in Central Poland. The vast majority of projects relocated from Belarus consist in support of IT processes, thus the locations’ profile would be analysed in detail in respect of labour market absorption for selected regional cities.

Interest is also being shown in Poland by foreign investors from other directions and business sectors. Investors from the United States continue to be highly active, where plans involve some large-scale investment projects, with a considerable number of them showing demand that oscillates around 100-300 headcounts in the first few years of operations, and certain larger projects are being considered too. In turn, projects of a different nature – ones covering both the business service and logistics and manufacturing sectors, have recently originated mainly from Germany and other Western European countries, namely Switzerland, Netherlands, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. They usually involve development of shared service centres, logistics centres and e-commerce facilities, as well as manufacturing processes, this to include high-tech processes, such as for the healthcare industry. A crucial factor that drives the influx of logistics investment onto the Polish market are the changes in supply-chain planning and organisation and the ongoing improvements within the infrastructure. This is particularly noticeable as regards rail routes and other transport links that expediate deliveries and support of processes from different parts of the world, including the Far East. Another of Poland’s strengths valued by investors is the availability and flexibility of land and properties on the industrial and logistics market, which offer space of the required quality and parameters, as well as the advanced solutions available, such as urban logistics, and the high level of automation in warehouse processes.

Main criteria taken into account when assessing the attractiveness of Poland’s regional cities with respect to investing there:

•    Number of potential locations as compared to CEE’s other regions, taking into consideration their maturity as measured by, amongst others, the number of locally operating organisations active within a specific area of operations (business services, manufacturing, logistics).
•    Size and absorption capacity of the market as measured by specific indicators, i.e. cost of labour, availability of candidates holding narrowly defined skills (such as foreign languages and software engineering), execution of recruitment plans with identification of the level of difficulty for more than ten cities across Poland.
•    Competitor analysis and key customer analysis (existing and potential). Identification of organisations that are relevant from the point of view of provision of services can also be a tool used for planning later-stage business-development activities.
•    Infrastructure and transport, taking into consideration the required links with offices located regionally and abroad, and the available means of transport (road, rail, air), together with an analysis with regard to travel time and accompanying infrastructure (hotels, restaurants, retail and services).
•    Analysis of the Real Estate market, covering:
-  costs and options available as regards the local office, industrial and logistics markets,
- access to local transport infrastructure (arrangements relating to staff commute options, quality of public transport links, distance from city center and residential neighbourhoods),
- fulfilment of the Employer Branding strategies (focus on the workplace and expectations raised by employees including new models of work

Impact of Covid-19 on the attractiveness of regional cities:

Access to the labour market and specific professional skills is becoming easier due to the growing popularity of remote work and the ability to perform work duties without having to commute to the office on a daily basis. The workplace and the way in which the needs of employees and employers are reconciled with the infrastructure needs of investment projects are changing. Office-space needs are being considered and planned differently than in previous years, while flexible and hybrid solutions are being implemented increasingly often to tailor office space to the actual needs of the investor and his recruitment plans. The need for flexibility is now becoming the key element in the assessment of a location's potential by foreign investors.

Thus leading consultancies such as CBRE are nowadays using progressively more advanced and comprehensive solutions to support the optimisation of foreign investment projects as early as possible at the stage of defining the criteria to be used when analysing potential locations. Should you be interested in the details of the methodology applied by CBRE, please contact us: Jan Banasikowski, CBRE Advisory & Transactions, jan.banasikowski@cbre.com, +48 695 619 291.  

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