Needing a new home after HSBC’s kind grant of rent-free offices ended with the bank’s move to other premises, the chamber has settled in at its prestigious and convenient city-centre location on ul. Zielna 37. The 250 m² of class A office space equally funded by UKTI will hopefully serve for longer than the current three-year lease. The office on Zielna is already known for its great “views and coffee”. Please stop by anytime you are nearby!
On the staff side we sadly waved goodbye to Marta Mikliszańska who joined our member firm CEC Government Relations in May. We very quickly thereafter welcomed Agnieszka Garbacz, Marta’s replacement who very efficiently moved to lead our policy groups. She brings with her seven years of experience and government contacts from her previous job at Polish inward investment agency, PAIiIZ. In June the number of groups increased to 12, with the Manufacturing Industries policy group being our latest initiative in this area. Michael Dembinski will continue to be our chief policy advisor. Michael has been carrying out this role since 2003, after 16 years experience at the CBI. Its hard to think of anyone who has been at the Chamber that deserves a bigger thanks for magnificent effort.
Poland’s most important political event of the year was the parliamentary elections which took place on 26 October. They have resulted in a new government that our policy groups will be engaging with for the objectives of generating an open public–private dialogue and to share best practice across wide range of topics. A calendar of policy meetings for Q1 of 2016 will be gradually uploaded on our events calendar.
Of equal importance to our policy work is our export support project for British SMEs. The BPCC has become part of the UKTI Overseas Business Network initiative which has successfully entered its third consecutive year. UK Trade and Investment has tasked 41 delivery partners including the BPCC to double British exports by 2020. Much effort has been put to meet this target by BPCC’s eight full-time export consultants and several researchers, led by Patrick Ney and Russell Towlson. Russell told our trade success story to the UK trade minister, Lord Maude, who visited the BPCC in September. Our export consultants who support British SMEs entering the Polish market have achieved global recognition for being one of the leaders in the network of 41 countries who form the OBN – well done all!
A younger brother of the OBN initiative was set up from the scratch in our Krakow’s office. This October, Marta Smolarek completed her first year with the BPCC. Marta is leading on export support activities for the Polish firms wanting to trade with the UK. The BPCC’s youngest export service has already made a big impact. There have been 13 ‘Export to the UK’ events across Poland this year, from Białystok to Wałbrzych, from Toruń to Kraków. Marta has assisted clients from all parts of Poland and will soon be adding to her team. We like to think that our efforts in the trade field have contributed to what will be a record year when it comes to the value of trade flows between Poland and the UK.
Many members and friends have noticed the new face of the Chamber with the re-launch of www.bpcc.org.pl on 1 September. A new look with improved functionalities to our website was unveiled. The changes were managed by Dorota Kierbiedź and Kuba Piegat. Look out for further enhancements in 2016. Many thanks to Dorota and Kuba for their commitment and skill on this initiative.
The BPCC’s regional work is a natural extension of our central offerings from Warsaw, so please don’t forget that your membership is corporate and covers all activities that are happening be they in Kraków, Wrocław and London and across the UK. Urszula, Ilona and Michael are eager to welcome you at the BPCC offices and events that are taking place in the regions.
In the UK, we have supported the hard work of Bartek Kowalczyk at Polish Business Link, who has done so much to integrate Polish entrepreneurs that have set up businesses in the UK. The BPCC has supported Bartek in the organisation of the First Congress of Polish Entrepreneurs in London, which attracted over 180 participants, as well as a Scottish forum in Edinburgh, and numerous seminar-mixer events up and down the UK from Southampton to Glasgow.
As ever, the social highlight of the year was the Annual Ball, held for the 23rd time on 25 October. As well as great entertainment, a display of Jaguar and Land Rover cars and fabulous food (English lamb), there was a surprise special guest – Solidarity legend, and modern Poland's first president, Lech Wałęsa.
At the AGM in April, Antoni Reczek was unanimously elected for his fourth year as the BPCC’s chairman, while Nicholas Richardson and Michael Clay both retained their position as vice-chairmen. Additionally Katarzyna Chabinka of KMC Services and Patrycja Rogowska-Tomaszycka of Provident were elected as board directors, and Ewa van Veenendaal-Rawicz of UK Trade & Investment Poland has joined the board as ex-officio director. The next AGM is confirmed for 27 April. Please save the date in your calendars if you wish to participate in person.
The chamber’s honorary presidents, Witold Sobków, the Polish Ambassador to the Court of St James’s and Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Warsaw Robin Barnett, have attended numerous BPCC events and we would like to thank both presidents for the tremendous support that the two embassies have lent our organisation, in particular for acting as marvellous hosts to so many events hosted in the respective embassies. Teamwork between the BPCC and the embassies has never been better. Sadly, there is a farewell ahead of us, as HMA Robin Barnett will be leaving his post in Warsaw after four years – please join us for Christmas Carols on Wednesday 16 December at the British Embassy in Warsaw to say good bye!
Last but certainly not least, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to our staff for their dedication, hard work and great ideas in 2015. All that’s been mentioned above could not have happened without the work of all our staff, who day-by-day support our members, clients, partners and friends and further build the wealth of British-Polish business relations. Words can only partly express our gratitude and we simply want to say: thank you and dziękujemy for all that you have delivered!
To our members who ensure the Chamber’s financial stability and who collectively form, under the BPCC umbrella, a vibrant business network that so effectively links our great nations, we say ‘keep on doing it!’
We wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2016 to our members, friends, partners and indeed all our readers.