The move from live events to webinars proved to be extremely successful; we have demonstrated our ability to move policy events online, delivering content and insight more effectively, regardless of geography and at lower organisational cost. As a result, the BPCC and its members have delivered more events over the past 12 months than in any other period in the Chamber’s history. Usership of social media received a strong boost during the lockdown, and our policy activities have been promoted more widely than ever before, especially on the LinkedIn and Twitter platforms. Webinars about taxation issues, HR, real estate and construction and of course Brexit were the most popular.
On 21 May 2021 the BPCC become one of the signatures of the Wrocław Green Transformation Charter developed by the Carbon Footprint Foundation. The BPCC will promote green transformation objectives set out by the declaration and partner with the British Government to promote Glasgow’s COP-26 initiatives in Poland.
The BPCC has continued to play an active role in the work of the International Group of Chambers of Commerce, which now represents foreign investors from 17 countries present in Poland. Recent issues on which the IGCC has made representations to the Polish authorities include the government's Covid-19 compensation fund; the enforced rent cut for shopping-mall landlords; workplace vaccination, and due diligence when dealing with entities based in tax havens. Government meetings are part of direct discussions with the policy-makers such as the virtual meeting with Minister of Finance Tadeusz Kościński on 26 May 2021.
We remain active in the global network of British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) overseas, which is now 71 chambers strong, across all continents. The global network links in with the 56 accredited chambers across the UK; we help forge contacts between UK chamber members and businesses across Poland. Adam Marshall, BCC’s former Director General has been replaced by Shevaun Haviland who has taken the lead of the BCC from May 2021. We’d like to thank Adam for his contribution to the network and congratulate Shevaun on her appointment.
BPCC has live and ongoing access to Polish entrepreneurs active in the UK through Edinburgh-based member PBlink.
Despite the pandemic summer of 2020, we were one of the very few organisations that managed to hold two face-to-face meetings in Warsaw and Wrocław. Warsaw’s event on 3 September was also a welcome to HMA Anna Clunes who started her ambassadorship to Poland. Wrocław’s Late-Summer Business Networking followed on in September to compete the list. After eight months with no physical meetings these two meetings made a lasting impression on our members for the effectiveness of the BPCC executive team.
During the gloomy second and third waves of the pandemic in Poland we were thinking ahead and planned a roadshow of four regional events under the title Nice to See You Again. We have already held three of the four planned mixers, visiting Wrocław and Poznań on 10 and 17 June respectively, and in Warsaw on 24 June, again with HMA Anna Clunes as the VIP guest (she also took part in the Poznań mixer).
The current number of members is 261 compared to 281 in June 2020. The economic sting of the pandemic was felt by all businesses, but our SMEs and hospitality-sector members have been hardest hit, resulting in forced resignations from the memberships. Remarkably as of the spring of this year, we are observing a steady growth in new memberships, especially amongst large corporate members. Most certainly businesses notice our activities on-line and face to face most recently.
Castorama, PwC and HSBC continue their Patronage commitment to support our activities. Tesco, Aviva and Sage have sold their Polish businesses and left the market.
Since the start of 2021 there’s been a huge demand for the services of the BPCC and its members. We have run a series of events where our members’ expertise in areas such as VAT, customs duties, logistics, transit guarantees, certification and standards, have been made available to companies trading between the UK and Poland. We have worked closely with the Polish Embassy in London, PAIH, and with chambers of commerce, special economic zones and regional development agencies around Poland, to reach out to Polish exporters promoting our members’ Brexit-related services. We have also made many media appearances on Polish TV, radio and online. Our mission to support bilateral trade and investment between Poland and the UK will continue tirelessly.
The executive team remains as it was last year, with no departures or newcomers. Paweł Siwecki, Dorota Kierbiedź, Ilona Chodorowska, Michael Dembinski, Jakub Piegat and Paulina Sierańska. I would like to say a very well-deserved thank-you to the team.
Administration and premises
The BPCC’s offices have moved in November 2020 – but not far. From the ninth floor to the fourth floor of the same building, on ul. Zielna 37, where we have a smaller space in keeping with our current needs. We have signed a lease on the property for two years.