After an introduction and welcome from Jerzy Bartosik, minister-counsellor, head of the trade and investment section at the Embassy, and Michael Dembinski, the BPCC's chief advisor, participants were presented with an overview of Poland's macroeconomic prospects by Witold Kowalczyk, head of the Public Aid Group at PAIiIZ, the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency. Mr Kowalczyk mentioned the advances in Poland's attractiveness to foreign investment, not least its jump up the World Bank's Doing Business ranking. “In terms of ease of doing business, Poland is now 25th in world, up from 74th four years ago,” he said. From the point of real estate investment, Mr Kowalczyk mentioned that permits for EEA nationals or businesses registered in the EEA wishing to purchase property would no longer be needed after 2 May 2016.
The next three presentations broke down the Polish real estate by sector. Anna Bartoszewicz-Wnuk, head of research & consulting at Jones Lang Lasalle, outlined the Polish retail market. She said that Poles have become accustomed to shopping in modern retail spaces. “They love shopping and shopping centres – mainly because there's a lack of traditional high streets,” she said. Ms Bartoszewicz-Wnuk gave an overview of the different sizes of city and town in Poland, suggesting that investors should have a look at the smaller towns, not so well-served with modern retail centres as Warsaw and the other big Polish agglomerations. Comparing provision of top-quality malls with towns across Western Europe, the big Polish cities do well.
Anna Kwiatkowska, associate, landlord representation manager at Cushman & Wakefield, presented a city-by-city office-space guide for investors. She went through the supply, vacancy and pipeline data for top-quality office space across the main Polish cities. Much of the development is driven by the inflow of business process outsourcing/shared services centres to Poland, a sector growing at over 20% a year. BPO/SSC hotspots such as Kraków and Wrocław have very low office vacancy rates, which makes them a good location for new developments, she said. As well as ultra-modern, state-of-the-art workspaces for global corporations, there's also a need for 'funky projects' that will attract young start-ups, said Ms Kwiatkowska, citing Warsaw's Art Norblin and Google Campus projects at the type of space that tech firms are interested in. “Edge-of-town campuses are no longer of interest to today's breed of IT start-up,” she said; “they want to near the city centres, where the action is.”
JLL's Ms Bartoszewicz-Wnuk returned to the podium to cover the industrial and warehouse property market in Poland, which she said had the economic rationale for the fastest growth. She said that speculative development showed that this sector of the market was becoming more confident, with firms like Pannatoni, Goodman, SEGRO and Prologis taking the lead. Poland's strong performance in export-led manufacturing explains the take-up for industrial space over the past three years, she said, while the rapid development of Poland's transport infrastructure network has been creating new logistic hubs – not only by the biggest motorway junctions, but also near smaller towns that until now had not been well served by warehouse facilities.
The formal part of the event over, participants went downstairs for the cocktail reception and had a chance to have one-to-one discussions with the expert speakers and swap business cards with each other.