Key insights and practical tips and on how to crack the UK market were on offer from BPCC members at the Brit It UP! event held in the Łódź Special Economic Zone on 19 June 2024. The aim of the event, organised along with the City of Łódź, the ŁSEZ and BPCC, was to consider the current state of the UK market post-Brexit, to see where the market opportunities for Polish exporters currently lie.

The event began with a welcome by the president of the management board of the Lodz SEZ, the Tomasz Sadzyński, the first deputy mayor of the City of Łódź, Adam Pustelnik and the BPCC’s chief advisor, Michael Dembinski, who pointed out that the UK remains the world’s sixth-largest economy, with a rich and absorbent market.

Urszula Kryńska, head of the analysis and forecasting team at PKO Bank Polski, gave an excellent presentation explaining the macroeconomic conditions facing the UK in the context of global and European trends. She drilled down into the detail of Polish-UK trade flows, providing valuable context for the rest of the day’s panels and presentations.

The first expert panel consisted of BPCC members, Grażyna Jaworska from J. Dauman Logistics, Elżbieta Pełka from Pełka I Partnerzy PR, Monika Plewka from ACP Global Forwarding and Kamila Sanders from J. Dauman Group, preceded by a presentation from Marzena Kwaśna from the London office of the Polish trade and investment agency, PAIH. The panel focused on the practicalities of exporting to the UK, the impact of border checks introduced by the UK government at the end of April, post-Brexit paperwork. Another important issue, ‘Brand Poland’ – how UK consumers and businesses regard Poland and products from Poland, led onto a discussion about e-commerce and whether selling online is more cost-effective than traditional methods via an agent or distributor.

For local businesses keen to expand into the UK market, the panel provided plenty of food for thought – about strategy, logistics and demographics; Michael Dembinski followed up with a presentation outlining points that Polish exporters should have in mind when considering the UK. The UK’s role as a springboard to global markets, and the financial support that Polish businesses can tap into from venture capital funds in the UK to help their global expansion, was explained by Michael Chaffe from UK Growth Capital.

Dorota Lombardi, director of the Department of Acquisition and Investor Service at Lodz SEZ spoke about the advantages of locating in the zone, and the rules for obtaining public aid. Of particular interest was the vocational school focused on automation and robotics, a leader in this field in Poland, and one that BPCC members in manufacturing industry would be keen to see replicated across Poland. The City of Łódź screened a short film showing the impressive roll-call of foreign investors who have set up operations there, and showcasing the massive progress that the city has made over the past decade. Government support for inward investors and Polish exporters was outlined in a second PAIH presentation in which we heard that Poland’s five target sectors in the UK are ICT, cosmetics, furniture, construction materials and food & beverages. Adam Pankowski from Deloitte Polska spoke about debt financing taking into account ESG elements.

The second panel of consisted of businesses active on the UK market, representing three of the five key sectors; construction materials, food and cosmetics. Michał Gosławski from the Atlas Group, Kamil Rabenda from Soligrano and Ewa Wysmyk from Delia Cosmetics were quizzed by Michael Dembinski as to their strategy for the UK and the reasons behind their success on that market.

Photo courtesty of Łódź Special Economic Zone