OBNI – The Quiet Revolution in support for British Exporters

Contrary to the general message we hear at times, Britain is one of the biggest global traders and investors there is.

We’re the seventh largest manufacturing economy in the world. We’re the sixth largest recipient of foreign investment. We are a constantly churning global factory of ideas, the world’s second largest exporter and importer of services. The UK is at an excellent starting point to adapt to the marathon, sprint, high jump or whatever other sporting metaphor you can think of that characterises today’s humungous explosion in global trade.

We’re better than we think we are. And we’d be even better for British business if we could shout louder from the rooftops, from the minarets, from the great walls, all about the oil wells and up and down the freeways about how great we are – because the rest of the world believes in it too. But we can’t stand still.

Because in business, if you stand still…

UK Trade & Investment, the UK Government’s trade & investment agency, is hardly resting on Great Britain’s Olympic trading laurels when we’re facing such stiff competition.

It’s never been easier than now to start up, fail fast, up sticks, re-shore, hire oodles of talent, mine lakes of data or penetrate new markets. Just like any business, it’s imperative that the UK ups its game to keep ahead of the competition.

That’s why our UK target is to grow our exports to 1 trillion pounds by 2020 and to see 100,000 more UK companies exporting by then as well. Both are big ticket challenges worthy of one of the world’s biggest exporting nations.

Above all there’s been one big revolution which I believe – whisper it softly – has revolutionised the support available for UK exporters.

The Overseas Business Network

UKTI has developed new partnerships with international businesses across the world like British chambers of commerce, harnessing local business networks and expertise to deliver a wider set of services for British exporters.

Altogether in 40 countries British companies are now able to access not only the support of their Embassy but also a local export consultancy partner, accredited by the UK based British Chambers of Commerce. I’m proud to be a part of that in Poland, leading the British Polish Chamber of Commerce Trade Team, 16 advisors based in Warsaw supporting upwards of a thousand exporters a year.

Now, if you’re still with me I know you’ll be waiting for a bit of revolutionary activity to be beginning at some point. Well this isn’t quite the opening chords Les Miserables, but here’s why I think the OBN is changing the way UK exporters get support.


Bringing in a wider set of business bonces from around the globe has seen exporters getting more traditional UKTI services as well as new creative ways to make UK exporters money.

Andrew Wright and his team at UK Colombia Trade deliver commission based contracts helping exporters on tight budgets but with great products or services get off the ground. Joe Hepworth at the British Centres for Business in Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer an exporter incubator platform which manages all the steps needed to launch a business in the UAE at a fraction of the cost compared to if it was done independently.


Joe Hepworth and his team offer new products for exporters to the UAE

In Poland our BPCC Trade Ninjas deliver B2B and B2C sales and marketing support to go beyond a typical distribution deal. Our cheeky food based Facebook page has completely changed the way Polish supermarkets view UK food and drink products, which is why we’ve launched over 125 new British products into market already.

More for less, year on year 

Because OBN revenue contributes to their costs they’re excellent value for money for the taxpayer. In Poland we’re already at 80% public, 20% private funded and were going hell for leather to improve on that. That means UK businesses are getting more for less, year after year. Sounds like good business sense to me.

Reaching parts of the world our competition can’t

This project has seen the UK go where no other country has been able to. The first ever international chamber set up in Myanmar? Not the French, German, American or any competitor’s but the British Myanmar Chamber of Commerce set up by my old colleague Lisa Weedon and Stephanie Ashmore. The OBN means the UK is in the front rank of countries in Myanmar, a market with opening up to international business for the first time.


Stephanie Ashmore launches the first ever foreign chamber in Myanmar 

Brand Britain

Promoting British exports isn’t just about providing services for exporters, it’s also about promoting Brand Britain and making a confident statement about who we are as a nation. Backed up by the excellent GREAT campaign – another little British gem you may not have heard of yet – OBN partners are showing trade markets the UK is serious about growing its presence.

Whether it’s the UK India Business Council’s network of British Business Centres across India or the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand’s successful food campaign – we’re showing the UK is seriously upping its game when it comes to exporters. And when the German equivalent of UKTI comes knocking to find out how we’re doing it, you know you must be doing something right.

Re-focusing UK Trade & Investment

UK Trade & Investment experts in British Embassies and High Commissions now work with their political colleagues on accessing high value opportunities in big ticket sectors for British business, whether it be a multi-national or a SME within the supply chain.

Focusing specifically  on this has seen UKTI China deliver a seven-fold increase in business wins to 3.5bn in 2015, with 26.6bn of business wins achieved by UKTI teams in over 100 markets in just 8 months of 2014 alone. Just like in any business, UKTI now has a better segmented product range which is more bespoke for an exporter’s need.

Vive la revolution!

Between all 40 of these export consultancies we must be doing something right: UKTI is now looking at developing even more OBNs across the world to help British exporters. To find out how we work, watch this 90 second video to find out more: BPCC Trade Video

And to find out more about how your local UK Trade & Investment Business Advisor can help you access the support of an OBN export consultancy, contact UKTI here or find your local chamber of commerce on the BCC website here.

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A Week in the Life of BPCC Trade

Paddy Ney, Director of the British Polish Chamber of Commerce’s Trade team looks back at a busy week supporting British business.


Monday, Sunny Monday! On Monday I find myself preparing with my colleague Konrad for an internal webinar we’re hosting for other Overseas Business Networks also helping British businesses. We’re excited about sharing some of the lessons from the 2 years we’ve been operating as a means to supporting other chambers on similar journeys. Later in the afternoon I meet Marek, who runs our Food is GREAT Campaign in Poland which is bringing in over 200 British products into the Polish market for the first time. Marek briefs me on the work we’re doing for a big launch event later on in the week.

I then host a teleconference with a client I am account managing to look at the support we’re giving his business. We’ve been able to secure 4 meetings with high level decision makers in his target group but our aim was to get 6. Fortunately, the exporter is realistic and understands how difficult it is to secure these C-level decision makers so is happy to see us approach the others as part of a second stage.

I then meet our chairman and CEO to discuss the exciting plans we’ve got for the next financial year to help exporters – including new plans to sell and market UK Plc on the Polish market using social media, experiential marketing and harnessing the brand reputation the BPCC and our partner UK Trade & Investment have on this market. We’re determined to change the way we’ve done trade and investment to maximise UK exports to the Polish market.


On Tuesday I send out a request to my colleagues in the Central and Eastern European region – Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania – to ask if we can discuss rolling out our Food is GREAT campaign on a regional basis. We’re keen to ensure that the success we’ve had for our clients on this project is repeated in other markets, and as a region we increasingly work effectively together to support exporters to enter multiple markets. It makes sense for us and most importantly for our clients.

We then come together as a Trade team to host our regular Tuesday weekly meeting, in which member of the team runs through their active client list and we look to identify trends and discuss common problems. We then host a brainstorm as a team on how we’re going to perform individually and collectively next year to reach our targets to support as many British exporters as possible. No surprises, year on year we’re going to have to keep on performing better and better – that’s the expectations of UK Trade & Investment and our chamber partners and why they’ve trusted us to support British companies on their behalf.

With my colleague Konrad I then host the webinar for 22 representatives of international British chambers of commerce also supporting British business. We focus on the Why, How and What of the last 2 years of our operations and try and give practical advice to help other chambers. Doing this takes time but is also a useful exercise for understanding your own business, which is why every quarter I try and take some time out to work on the business but not in the business. I then pop straight onto a flight to Poland’s fourth largest city, Wrocław for a last-minute meeting I’ve been invited to the next day.


Wednesday finds me meeting with a major British company considering a sizeable investment into the Wrocław region with the potential to create up to 8,000 new jobs. I can’t reveal the company for confidentiality reasons but if the decision does come through it will be the largest UK investment in Poland to date. We encourage investment as a route to expansion and sales in Poland and the CEE region, and I take the investor through the support available to them via the British Polish Chamber of Commerce, the Trade team and from UK Trade & Investment and the British Embassy. Between us, we’ve a really joined up offer for investors that can help reassure them that, when entering this new market, they’ll have friends at hands.


Later that day we put the final touches to our business planning for 2015/16 in which we predict we’ll help British business 1500 times. – a 50% increase on the year before. I then jump back on the plane to be in time to attend a free media coaching session run by the European Association of Communication Directors hosted by the excellent Binaria Communications (http://www.binaria.pl). Along with about 10 other participants, we’re given instructions and advice on how to handle media interviews and preparation, before being given imaginary scenarios to record live. I’m suddenly a spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company which has had some negative publicity on a product and is trying to defend the company’s position live on TV. Watching my somewhat bumbling statement (in Polish) on a very large screen and getting feedback from Binaria’s experts it’s clear my career as a company spokesperson still has some way to go, but the live practice is ideal for an appearance I have in front of 20 journalists the next day, which I rush home to prepare a set of slides for.


Thursday morning finds me discussing the market entry of a Marketing and PR company we’re supporting with their researcher, Łukasz. Łukasz has done some fantastic work to analyse the market opportunity and competitors for the client, which helps us challenge some of the assumptions of the client regarding the way they should enter the Polish market. We’ll pitch it to the client next week but investing this time now will really help make our support as bespoke as possible.

I then go straight into a conference on the Food is GREAT campaign which sees Polish journalists from all the Polish major dailies and a number of specialist food press and magazines being briefed on the campaign’s next phase, a major promotion drive in partnership with Poland’s largest independent international food distributor with 14 shops across the country, Kuchnie Swiata.

Fot. Tomasz Zybert (34)

My presentation focuses on the trade opportunity for Polish and British companies. UK – Polish trade has risen dramatically since Poland’s entry to the European Union in 2004. My prediction based on trade to date is that Poland will be exporting an additional £3.5 billion pounds of products and services to the UK by 2016, reaching £13bn in total, and that the UK will be exporting an extra £1.3bn in 2016, so that the UK total exports that year will reach £7bn. But the highlight of the conference is an appearance by the face of the campaign, Kevin Aiston, who came to Poland in the 90s and now speaks word-perfect Polish and is the face of a number of television programmes. Kevin’s a trained chef and takes the journalists through some of the delicious products we’re introducing, like pork pies, lamb, ciders, sweets and health foods as well as recipes in his new book (Not just fish and chips is the tagline – overcoming the perception of most Polish consumers that Britain is still trapped in the culinary warp of the 1970s).

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 09.41.42

I then meet with a Polish consultancy business looking to identify opportunities with British businesses. I specialise in the services sector so I outline some of the companies we work with and their preferred partnership strategies. Next it’s a chat with the fanstatic team at Santander with whom we’ve partnered to deliver a major trade mission for 10 British exporters later this year. Santander are doing a huge amount to support exporters with a number of selected high-opportunity markets, so to join the Polish trade mission or to find out more visit http://www.santandercb.co.uk/breakthrough/international. We’re excited about the visit and our planning our support to get the best for the customers.


It’s been a busy week but the end’s almost in sight. We start the day as a team doing a regular exercise of ours – whiteboard sessions. These are chances for account managers to explain their current projects to the rest of the team and answer searching questions regarding the projects. The aim is to ensure we’ve thought as hard as possible about how best to support exporters and to come up with the best possible value projects. I then have a quick chat with Louise at UK Trade & Investment to talk about our communications in Poland and how best to support other chambers of commerce learn from our experiences. We’re always really pleased to share and learn from other chambers and it’s always good fun to speak to Louise.

In the afternoon we meet with representatives from the British Embassy in Berlin who have come on a 2 day study tour to find out more about the 4 Pillar Strategy of the British Embassy, UK Trade & Investment Poland and the British Polish Chamber of Commerce, headed by our Ambassador Robin Barnett. We’re always pleased to improve our links with the German market in any way, since as a business if you can make it in Germany, you should definitely be looking at the major market right next door, Poland.



The week’s not over just yet! I drive over to a large shopping centre where the Food is GREAT campaign team headed by Marek and Bogna is hard at work putting the touches to a big promotional event to showcase the launch of our Food is GREAT campaign for British food and drink exporters. Deputy Ambassador Sarah Tiffin officially kicks off proceedings with a speech in Polish. Celebrity Kevin Aiston is managing to cook and make the audience laugh at the same time and the reaction from consumers tasting Wensleydale, pies, chutney and fantastic British products and drinks for the first time is a delight. This market is very difficult to crack on your own, so Marek and his team have brought in a group of food and drink exporters and – most importantly – focused on driving consumer interest through social media and competitions. It’s not enough to be on the shelves, customers have to be motivated enough to buy. Watching the excited faces of children trying cheddar and roast lamb with mint jelly for the first time, I’m incredibly proud of the hard work of Marek, Bogna, Małgosia and Ola. But this is just the beginning of what we can justifiably call the biggest and best promotion of British food ever!


Talking about British food, I’ve got 4 guests coming over on Sunday for a British meal and I’ve got a fair bit of cooking to do. Time to stock up on products from the nearby Kuchnie Swiata stand and get cracking on persuading 4 more consumers that British food is the best in the world!


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Success for Paintbrush manufacturer LG Harris on the Polish Market

In this article BPCC Trade’s Konrad Kubacki and Aneta Mielcarz explain how well known brand L G Harris entered the Polish market in partnership with BPCC Trade.


L G Harris & Co. Limited is a leading British manufacturer of a wide range of paintbrushes and decorating tools famous for their quality, innovation and design, coupled with great value prices. The company is successfully supplying millions of decorators around the world and is proud to hold the Royal Warrant in recognition of its product excellence.

Harris brushes

Poland, as the biggest market in CEE and sixth-largest economy in the EU, offersnumerous business opportunities for UK companies. That’s why L G Harris’s UKTI International Trade Advisor Nick Corley identified Poland as one of the biggest potential markets for L G Harris products and engaged BPCC Trade, the official provider of services for UK Trade & Investment, to support Nigel and his team.

Recognising how difficult entering a foreign market can be, with market barriers like understanding your target market, identifying key contacts and overcoming language barriers, BPCC Trade worked with L G Harris to diagnose the best route to market strategy, and helped open doors to the right buyers in market.

“Based on the experience that we’ve had with the BPCC, I would not only advise other companies to use them to gain market entry, it’s almost a must!”
Nigel Gardiner-Harvey, L G Harris’s Lynwood Divisional Manager UK & Export

As a result of BPCC Trade’s support L G Harris has already signed agreements with 2 major retail chains in Poland. Within six months, L G Harris has also begun discussions with a third major retail chain in Poland with the potential for distributing its products throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

“The service provided by BPCC has been quick, efficient and good value for money. (…) With the BPCC the reputation of our company feels in safe hands and that all important first contact with potential customers is handled in a professional manner, easing the path for later negotiations.” Nigel has told us.

 v gillian.barlow@uktinorthwest.co.uk

L G Harris have therefore decided to continue with the second stage of the BPCC Trade market entry project which includes further identification of potential business partners with the focus on distributors.

“Worcestershire based L G Harris have utilised the services of BPCC as part of their Poland market entry strategy with great success. (…) Since BPCC intervention the company’s progress in Poland has been significant and Nigel Gardiner-Harvey has confirmed that none of this would have been achievable without their support.” – said the L G Harris UKTI advisor, Nick Corley.

Click this link to watch what Nigel has to say about the BPCC Trade Team’s help: http://bit.ly/LGHarrisPoland

L G Harris & Co. Limited testimonial letter

Posted in Poland, Trade, UK | Leave a comment

BPCC Trade Top 10 Tips for Service Exporters

  BPCC Trade Top 10 Tips for Service Exporters

Patrick NeyBritain doesn’t manufacture any more, everyone knows that, don’t they? Not entirely, we’re still just about the 7th largest manufacturing economy in the world. But it’s the factory of ideas in which the UK is really excelling and in this blog Paddy Ney, Director of BPCC Trade, sets out 10 top tips for service companies looking to export to Poland. 

In the global economic race, the UK still punches well above its weight. And that’s never more true of services, which every year are more and more important to global growth. In fact as of 2014 according to the Office of National Statistics the services sector accounts for 79% of the UK economy. No surprises for guessing which element of services is the UK’s strongest export performer. Financial services – despite the 2008 crisis – accounts for more than 7% of UK GDP. That strength is reflected here in Poland where Aviva, HSBC, RBS, Provident and Prudential all have a major presence.

Services also have a major impact on manufacturing performance and the OECD have been doing a lot of work in recent years to measure Trade in Added Value – the real picture behind goods and services exports. The OECD research suggests that in the UK economy services have a major impact on manufacturing exports. Services also happen to be the most British thing we make, too. The OECD tells us that they have the lowest percentage of foreign involvement than any other sector (about 5% compared to 30% in the chemicals sector).

There’s no emoticon for expressing the feeling ‘enough statistics already!’ so I will save you the trouble: Top line, service exports are increasingly important to the global economy, and we’re one of the world’s best. That’s something to be proud of.

But critically, UK service companies often prefer to operate in English speaking environments or in Commonwealth companies, more so even than manufacturers. Poland’s our 20th most important goods partner but only our 30th most important services destination. So driving services exporters is something of a passion for me, my team and our colleagues.

Which is why over the course of the past 2 decades UK Trade & Investment Poland and the British Polish Chamber of Commerce have been doing a huge amount to promote British capacity across the services sector and to do more to help British companies. UKTI actively works with major UK companies across six key strategic sectors in partnership with the Chamber’s 11 policy groups comprising of major British, Polish and international businesses.

BPCC Trade, the team set up by the BPCC to deliver support for British small and medium exporters, has built over the course of the past 2 years a real expertise in services support for innovative British companies. Whether your company is in training, qualifications, education, management consultancy, information technology, legal, shared service centres and business process outsourcing, manufacturing, transport, travel, construction, insurance, pensions or tourism – these top 10 tips could be helpful for your business growth in this market.

Oh, just one last thing. Every single one of these tips is both true and not true. Why? Because there are no absolute truths in business and as every company, its history, people and products are so very unique, we try to avoid forming any assumptions about how they are going to succeed in market.

No 1 – Going global? Take it Local

Most services involve working with people. Localising in every sense of the world is absolutely crucial to your success as despite high levels of English in many sectors, most Polish people will prefer to learn, discuss and share in their native language. I know of at least one British lean manufacturing company that won business in Poland working in a UK company’s new factory but that’s the exception to the rule. Standing with a translator next to you trying to build an effective working relationship with a factory technician in a short space of time is more than tricky and the company never returned to Poland to do any more work. Shame, as Poland is a major manufacturing hub and has a large part of the Germany supply chain and there are really no more than 20 serious lean management players in the market.

That said every sector is different, and we work with some British companies providing leadership and skills training to Polish C-level decision makers taking their companies international for the first time in English. That’s why we help to make you to understand exactly what going local needs to mean – and then help you adjust your branding, marketing, sales strategies and products to match.

No 2 – Know The Market

The Polish services market is very different to the UK’s, which has had 70 years of post-war capitalist growth to fuel it, but there are still an estimated 15,000 Polish services companies, with the usual Big 4 and major players, a smaller mid-size market and a large micro and small business segment.

Poland’s economy, teteering on the brink of disaster after the fall of Communism from almost 50 years of communist command and control industrial economics, has seen an extraordinary turn around with uninterrupted economic growth since the ‘90s. That means that many elements of the services sector are nascent, but not all. Understanding the market profile with the right kind of initial analysis is crucial.

For example, significant EU structural funding has driven an explosion in the number of education, learning and skills building Polish companies and the sector definitely ‘red water’ territory. A British language school in the 90s stood a real chance of carving out a market share, but by now the sector is hugely competitive. Not impossible, but difficult. Your USP is what will make you stand out (More on that in a bit).

FICA statistics show us that the total value of the mangament consultancy sector in Poland is worth approximately 300mn EUR, whilst Germany’s is 30 billion. Whether your view that as an opportunity or a barrier is entirely down to your company and its approach to entering ‘blue water’ territory.

What’s absolutely crucial is understanding the operating environment you’re entering, going beyond surface statistics and really spending time getting to know the business culture. One company we supported in 2013 made a set of assumptions about its potential partner strategy based on its success in Western European markets. Naturally, repeating successful strategies makes sense.

But Poland, whilst it is undoubtedly the biggest economy in the Central and Eastern Europe region and Europe’s 6th largest economy, is most definitely not a typical Western services market. We came to the conclusion that the company’s products were more suited to a major international management consultancy partner than a Polish mid-sized business, mostly based on price but also on the fact that they were very innovative and needed the support of a better known brand. Still a work in progress on that project.

No 3 – Selling direct? You’ve got to be there to sell there

No, we don’t necessarily mean you’ve got to set up an office and take on loads of staff and overheads! But without a genuine presence and your brand’s boots on the ground, it’s going to be difficult to form the relationships and grow your business effectively. Not impossible, but difficult. This is much less true of goods where securing the right distributor in market can take much of the weight off the shoulders of the exporter. Major British consultancy AMEC, supported by the excellent Energy team in the British Embassy in Warsaw, spent years building effective relationships with decision makers and its potential Polish supply chain before winning a major contract to deliver the Owner’s Engineer project for Poland’s nuclear development programme.

Since so much of what great services are about is human interaction, being physically present is absolutely vital.

No 4 – Selling indirect? Your partner will make or break your business

Finding the right partner to license or deliver your services in market can often be a great way to build your business and takes advantage of your USP whilst leveraging your local partner’s network and experience. We recommend looking for reciprocal partnership deals where the Polish company, if they’ve got the right risk attitude and growth strategy, will be able to work with you. We’re currently helping an IT software company specialising in the insurance sector and one of the entry potentials is via an existing Polish IT company operating in the sector but with a non competitive product range. This is an common model for the legal sector as well.

No 5 – Quality is nice but price is king

Poland is a price sensitive market, no matter what sector you work in. From public procurement to paper towels, adapting the right pricing for your products and services is crucial. In a market where the average worker earns £700 and decades of under investment and communist mismanagement have robbed generations of businesses of accumulated capital and aspiration, businesses are looking for great value in everything they do. The perception is that UK companies are excellent but expensive so analysing competitors and thinking about price points well in advance of initial entry will really help you understand whether this market is right for you.

And let’s be honest, not every company is able to offer the right reduction on its margins. We understand that, but we’d rather you find that out before you invest time and money in looking at building a presence here.

No 6 – Hire a local!

One of the major benefits of the significant people movement between the UK and Poland and the surrounding region is the transfer of skills, knowledge and relationships. Leverage that by asking a native speaker working in your company to lead your business development into the region. They know you and your company inside out and their local market better than you ever will. Plus it’s a great development opportunity for them as individuals.

No 7 – Make your USP Stick

The first question we ask services companies is always: what’s your USP? A British IT company is going to find it hard to compete with the Polish IT sector, which is both extraordinarily skilled, superb value for money and high quality as well. Standing out from the crowd with innovation makes your business hugely attractive and should be at the centre of your market entry strategy.

No 8 – Leverage Brand UK

British service companies are known for being world leading. You can see that reflected in the huge interest in UK technical qualifications and professional bodies present already in Poland (Such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales, Chartered Insitute of Management Accountants, Chartered Institute of Marketing, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, Institute of Mechanical Engineers…. I could go on!)

It’s why many Polish investors choose the UK as a base from which to go global, something UKTI is actively driving with its excellent Inward Investment team. Leverage the UK’s international brand and English language to drive your business in this hungry, go-getting and dynamic economy by adjusting your marketing to suit. The Germans do this brilliantly on the Polish market and we are just as keen to fly the flag for UK Plc with Great British companies.

No 9 – Be Long Term

Poland is a member of the EU and although it has a very different legal culture to the UK, it is not a market with high cultural or business barriers to entry. On average it takes our clients between 1 and 3 years before they start seeing a return on their investment and hard work. And we realise that’s a real challenge for any small and medium business. Writing this, I’m reminded of this passage in the Chinese book the I Ching.

No going not followed by a return
No plain not followed by a hill
He who remains perservering
In the face of danger
Is without blame.
Do not complain about this truth
Enjoy the good fortune you possess

Exporting is hard and not for the short-termist.

Top 10 – Speak to Experts!

There’s a huge amount of expertise and knowledge for you to tap into when you make contact with the Chamber of Commerce, its 400+ members, UK Trade & Investment and the British Embassy in Warsaw and our collective strategic partner network. One client was keen to make contact with a Polish C-level decision maker in a UK company here in Poland. What do you know? Their CEO sits on our board and I was getting our client access to the top people within the week. Even if you don’t work with us, do your best to speak to as many people as you can to build up a strong market understanding.

To summarise…

I hope these Top 10 Tips made sense to you and your business. Can you help us add a few? Drop me a comment and I’ll happily reply.

At BPCC Trade we’re delighted to have helped over 90 services companies since April 2014 and we’ve learnt a lot along the way. If the you’ve got the product, strategy, budget and team in place to enter this market and these top 10 tips hit home with your business culture, then have a chat with a BPCC Trade services specialist by contacting me on Twitter @paddyney or @BPCC_Trade or emailing trade@bpcc.org.pl.







Posted in Poland, Trade, UK | Leave a comment

Innovation is GREAT – Innovating the Export Journey

On a great day for Polish and British business relations, the BPCC launches a new system to help support exporters enter the Polish market. Patrick Ney, director of BPCC Trade, explains more.

Monday 20 October was a big day for UK-Polish relations. At the British Embassy in Warsaw and at the British Polish Business Centre a series of meetings and events focusing on the theme of innovation were held with dozens of British and Polish healthcare and life-science businesses coming together for the first time at the Innovation is GREAT Summit.

At the British Embassy, Robin Barnett, HM Ambassador to Poland, Prof Lena Kolarska-Bobinska, Minister of Science and Higher Education, Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and Prof Marcin Palys, Rector of the University of Warsaw, announced the establishment of a scientific partnership between the University of Cambridge and the University of Warsaw. This landmark deal signifies just how much potential there is for the dynamic Polish economy to utilise British know-how across a wide range of sectors.

At the BPCC, working in partnership with UKTI, we see a real hunger to utilise the UK’s experience, connections, intellectual drive and vision. We work closely with the Polish Foreign Information and Investment Agency (PAIiIZ) and organisations like BusinessLink (http://bl.przedsiebiorca.pl) Europe’s largest entrepreneurial tech cluster, to help Polish start-ups to grow in the UK. This in turns helps us grow UK exports to Poland.

There’s plenty of innovation for British companies to get to grips with in Poland, too, and the Innovation is GREAT Summit was a real expression of that. Over €150 billion of EU structural funding with €82.5 billion earmarked for Poland over the next six years is driving huge change in this country – with funds focused on innovation and competitiveness, R&D, education and social innovation, ICT and services facilitating research. Polish gross domestic expenditure on research and experimental development doubled between 2008 and 2012. The value of sales in the ICT sector in 2012 reached £26bn in 2012; a 31% rise on sales in 2009. This is a dynamic, fast-moving economy with a lot on offer for the UK.

That’s why, together with UKTI, we help British companies to access, understand and do business with these significant opportunities. And British Chambers of Commerce and Embassies are doing this right across the Central and Eastern European region, as well. Similar events are taking place in Bratislava, Budapest, Gdansk and Bucharest.

And we know we, too, have to innovate to grow our business. If you’re standing still, then you’re automatically falling behind your competition. That’s why we’ve been working for the past 12 months on a new system to handle our clients on their export journeys, along with a new website. So 20 October was important to us not just for the landmark Cambridge-Warsaw university deal, or the Innovation is GREAT summit, but for the launch of our new system for handling clients, which we call simply ‘TRADE’ and can be found by visiting our site here – http://trade.bpcc.org.pl

What does TRADE do?

For our clients, it will mean a radically improved level of service from the BPCC Trade team.

For our team of expert consultants, it will mean a new way of supporting clients which will help us spot opportunities, link businesses and service clients more quickly, efficiently and effectively than ever before.

We’re taking our client experience off Excel and Outlook and on to a state-of-the-art cloud-based system.

Our clients will be able to access our Polish-based equivalent of www.uktradedata.co.uk – meaning access to detailed statistics on Polish demand for their product in over 4,000 codes. How much does Poland buy of your product? Using TRADE you’ll know, instantly.

Once logged in to TRADE system, clients will be processed through a new dashboard. This dashboard enables us to see every client coming through and what the team is doing to help them. We’ll be able to auto-download information on our performance and all along their journey, our clients will be able to rate our performance – just how well are we doing to help you?.

This use of data will enable us to improve and modify our services and act on feedback in real time.

People supporting your project, such as your UKTI International Trade Advisor will be able to access TRADE and contribute to support your project.

And it means your project will never be lost down the back of a virtual cabinet ever again, as TRADE will retain your information and remind us when we need to get in touch with you.

Our TRADE MarketPlace site will enable chamber members and our strategic partners to volunteer information and support for our UK clients on a live basis. This one-stop shop will enable us to work much more efficiently with the business organisations and partners that give us an unrivalled access to businesses across Poland.

So for BPCC Trade, today’s launch of TRADE is a huge and innovative step towards our vision to Connect Business, Create Trade and Deliver Success.

To access our support, click log-in on http://trade.bpcc.org.pl and start your export journey. We look forward to working with you!

Posted in BPCC, Members, Poland, Polish Regions, Trade, UK | Leave a comment

Poland’s muscular mid-tier

by Patrick Ney, director BPCC Trade Team

What have pestering nine-year olds at their first communion have to do with Poland’s muscular mid-sized businesses? Patrick Ney supplies the surprising answer.

As we travel up and down the country, attending chamber and UKTI events from Glasgow to Hull, Ipswich to Belfast, we find ourselves talking about the opportunities for British business created by the phenomenal growth of Europe’s sixth-most populous member state, Poland.

Ever since I first came to Poland in 2007, I’ve been struck by the rapid and far-reaching changes the country has experienced since EU accession. This is a country that’s transforming before its very eyes. And that’s as true for the many hundreds of thousands of Polish children the majority of whom still, at the age of eight or nine attend their first Holy Communion.

The Catholic Church and its traditions and social conventions of the Catholic church still hold sway across Polish society, even if the country is becoming more secular. The first communion remains an important day in a child’s life, a day that should be marked with an appropriate gift.

In place of a gift of a rosary or Bible, a somewhat less spiritual demand for the latest technologies has become the norm, as average incomes rise across the country. In 2003 average Polish income was just 48.8% of the EU average, just 10 years later that’s leapt to 69.9%. And some of the winners have been Poland’s nine year olds – Puls Biznesu reports that 2013 saw a 100% rise in sales of lightweight tablets, a 30% rise in laptops and a 30% rise in sales of mountain bikes, as increasingly affluent Poles continue to out-do each other in the race to give their children the best.

Pester-power is not the only phenomenon on the rise in this country. Travelling around Poland, the BPCC Trade Team meet hundreds of Polish businesses each year to gather intelligence and build networks that we can use to help create value for our clients. As a chamber of commerce, we can access networks that an individual business could never reach.


We visited Rzeszów this week to talk to Polish businesses about importing from the UK, one of dozens of such meetings we hold each year to reach thousands of Polish businesses. This event was organised with European Enterprise Network’s Rzeszów office; the network of investors and exporters’ service centres (COIE); and Podkarpackie Science and Technology Park, Aeropolis.

We see the same drive to compete present in the companies we meet. According to the SME Capex Barometer, 45% of Polish businesses predict revenue growth in 2014 – a level of confidence matched only by German firms.

Across the Polish economy, which has grown without faltering each quarter over the past 22 years, Polish businesses are increasingly exporting not only across its traditional export base of Europe – to which around 75% of Polish exports currently go – but globally too.

Polish exports have rocketed from €47 billion annually in 2003 to €152 billion in 2013, leaping up the table to become Europe’s eighth-largest exporter, up from 12th in 2003. Polish imports have similarly rocketed.

As a market which is not yet fully matured, there are far fewer mid-size businesses in many sectors. This presents a significant opportunity for UK companies. Whilst Poland’s manufacturing industry is highly developed, the management consultancy sector in Poland is still nascent – worth just 1% of the European total at £320m in 2012. That creates space for British companies with international connections or innovative products or people to enter the market or partner with some of the 40 or so Polish management consultancies that occupy the middle ground of the market. We help companies in this sector connect.

There is a particular species of entrepreneur in Poland. They were in the right place at the right time when Communism ended, took risks to establish their own business and worked ferociously to grow them. Collectively, these small and medium companies are the engine behind Poland’s growth – worth 67% of the national GDP according to Forbes.

Companies like Solaris, a family company set up in 1996, setting up its first production line for a local municipal contract, which in 2013 exported its high quality hybrid, low-emission buses to Germany, Serbia, Hungary, Norway and Italy. Solaris utilised Poland’s significant EU funding, using innovation to differentiate in a crowded and competitive European market place. Now, further international expansion is the horizon.

Or companies like Maspex Wadowice. From importing coffee from Germany to sell in Poland in the 1980s with financing from student friends, owner Krzysztof Pawiński has grown Maspex into one of Europe’s largest largest food and drink companies, specialising in juices, drinks and pastas. The company, supported by investment in one of Poland’s special economic zones (the Katowice Special Economic Zone) is investing in R&D to stay ahead of the game in food technology. We help British businesses understand how they can benefit from the Polish SEZ offer – which includes significant corporate income tax reductions.

The many thousands of Polish small- and medium-sized companies seeking to emulate Solaris and Maspex’s success are looking for financing, injections of ideas and contacts and networks to help them grow. British companies can benefit from this and that’s where the BPCC Trade Team comes in.

Companies like Evatronix , who produce complex, innovative 3D scanners using structured white light technology. We are helping Evatronix to enter the UK market and in return utilise their Polish distribution network to assist British companies with non-competing products and services. Our holistic export and import offer, delivered in partnership with UK Trade & Investment, means that between the BPCC and UKTI we now have a complete package of support for companies operating in both directions.

So whatever your business, get in touch with our team to find out how our extensive networks of businesses across Poland can help you do business with – or partner with – the many mid-size Polish companies driving the country’s remarkable development.

A powerful force for UK-Polish relations

The combined Warsaw teams of the BPCC and UKTI spent a day together focusing on joint working and programmes, such as our #FoodisGREAT – Taste of Britain campaign. With a new Inward Investment team in place, the combined size of the joint UKTI and BPCC teams is 45+ employees. This is a powerful coalition for bringing UK and Polish business together, working to improve the business and commercial environment of Poland, and a sign of how importantly the UK treats Poland as a business destination. Contact trade@bpcc.org.pl to find out more about the work of the combined BPCC UKTI teams.




Posted in BPCC, Economy, Poland, Trade, UK | Leave a comment

One year of the Trade Team – first results

- by Patrick Ney, Director, BPCC Trade Team

Holidays and anniversaries are times when people look back at the experiences and connections they’ve made. For the business world in the UK, this is the end of the financial year on 31 March. Time, then, for me to contemplate the achievements and progress the BPCC Trade team has made in becoming one of the leading providers of services for British businesses looking to enter or expand internationally.

The BPCC signed its agreement to work with UK Trade & Investment, with which it already had a long history of co-operation, in April 2013. We launched the project properly in July. In terms of the numbers of business cards I’ve collected, it’s clear that the past eight months have been some of the most active I’ve ever seen!

So what have we been doing and what have we learnt as we launched the team and started helping British exporters?

Chambers of Commerce are unique beings, neither fully private companies issuing dividends to their shareholders, nor fully public. One particular characteristic is their unique network of members, service providers, strategic partners and similar organisations all operating – and not always competing – within a similar ecosphere. The power of the chamber network is something our UK delivery partner, the British Chambers of Commerce, stresses, and I’ve seen that over the past few months. It’s one of the reasons why I need a second box to hold my business cards as the first is now stuffed with over 300!

Whether it’s a highly technical question on chemical labelling, or discussing how to lower the excise duty on UK cider, whether it’s translating your product into technically perfect Polish, or bending the ear of a friendly lawyer for advice on how to end a contract with a poor performing distributor, the BPCC’s network is here to help UK exporters. Our role as BPCC Trade is not only to provide a complete package of end to end services for companies, but to connect them with service providers who can support them with the best possible solution. We’re also fortunate to benefit from the support of BPCC Policy’s 11 policy groups – providing business with access to decision makers across the country – and the work of UKTI and the British Embassy, Warsaw. Our network is strong, connected and much more powerful as a group than one business going it alone.

Since we started, we’ve tried to be as active as possible in getting out and about and meeting businesses across both Poland and the UK. In just the last eight months we’ve been to Bradford, Kent, the Isle of Wight, London, Leeds, Derby, Liverpool, Shrewsbury, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayr, Inverness, Manchester, Lincolnshire, Dorset, Aberdeen, and Plymouth. In Poland we’ve been to Krakow, Katowice, Chorzow, Gliwice, Walbrzych, Opole, Zielona Gora, Gdansk, Bydgoszcz, Torun, Olszytn, Lublin, Rzeszow, Bialystok. On each occasion we’ve been feeding leads and building relationships which we use to benefit our UK clients to enter the market and do business. Our mission is, every year, to be in every small, medium and large city in Poland and the UK talking to business about doing business.

BPCC Trade meeting 20 businesses interested in trading with the UK in Zielona Gora in March

We’ve had VIP visits from all sorts of people, including Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston, former CEO of BT, Ken Clarke MP, senior FCO official Barbara Woodward. Scottish Development International, the Welsh Assembly Government and Invest Northern Ireland have also been to see us to discuss how we can help companies in their region. We’ve had Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey discussing the UK’s energy sector potential in Poland. We’ve seen Minister of State for Energy Michael Fallon also come to discuss the nuclear energy. We’ve hosted UKTI and Chamber colleagues from many countries, including Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic and countless other seminars, discussions and meetings.

Trade & Investment Minister Lord Livingston talks to British and Polish businesses about opportunities in the rail sector at our British Polish Business Centre.

We’re building systems which allow exporters to understand demand much more quickly than they’ve ever been able to before. Our instant demand generator is available free for UK companies to use and is the first of its kind anywhere. We’re also building the first chamber specific account management tool to help handle the hundreds of British companies we service each year – making our support efficient, stream lined and cost effective.

Our instant demand data engine analyses total imports into Poland and UK performance (blue) in 4,000 product codes

We’ve tried to always bring a spirit of innovation to everything we do – which is precisely what our Ambassador, Robin Barnett asked of the BPCC when this project first began. We’ve trialled an innovative strategic market entry programme for over 30 British food and drink companies representing over 130+ GREAT British food and drink products called #FoodisGREAT – Taste of Britain. This campaign is a multi-levelled market entry process which will, in September, see the biggest ever match-funded promotion of British food and drink ever seen in Poland and possibly the world. This week our British producers have been in town meeting with national and regional buyers, from big chains to wholesalers. The reaction from both consumers, buyers and producers to this complex market entry project has been overwhelmingly positive. Check out this short video to see how Stage 1 of the #FoodisGREAT project went.

HM Ambassador Robin Barnett checking out just some of the innovative food and drink products in our #FoodisGREAT campaign

Business Centre

We’ve also built the first ever British business centre in an overseas market, part of the Government’s desire to see physical landing spaces for UK exporters in high opportunity markets. Since launching the space in July 2013, we’ve seen hundreds of British and Polish businesses pass through our doors, and we’ve collected information on them along the way. We’ve hosted product launches, political events, networkers and business mixers for thousands of companies. We’ve seen UK companies take advantage of our unique mix of hot-desking and free wi-fi and meeting room space. To quote just one user, the ‘facility is first-class.’ And it made the ideal space to host businesses from the East of England on a trade mission this year. Our webinar facilities, going on-stream shortly, will allow us to communicate with hundreds of UK partners to communicate business opportunities in Poland. Check out this 1 minute video to see the Business Centre offer.

Our Business Centre is in Grade A business space located right in the very heart of Warsaw offering hot-desking, meeting rooms, access to UKTI and BPCC advisors and events space.

But most importantly our team of 15 business consultants and researchers have been busy creating a high quality suite of consultancy services, charged at a matched rate to our UKTI colleagues, with whom we co-operate to deliver campaigns, projects and provide advisory services for companies of all sizes across a wide range of sectors. Connecting Business, Creating Trade was the strapline we came up with as a team in July 2013 and I am pleased to see that this was not just yet another meaningless corporate slogan, but an accurate summary of a high-performing BPCC team. A team that’s been busy working to grow a business supporting UK companies with a high quality package of risk analysis, competitor identification, price point studies, route to market solutions, sales and marketing proposals and business partner, distributor and representative identification. It’s this work we’re most proud of having developed so quickly and to date we’ve helped British business over 750 times.

None of this would have been possible without the support and expertise of our colleagues within UKTI at the British Embassy in Warsaw, across the CEE region and in the UK. BPCC Trade is just one part of UKTI’s mission to increase the number of UK exporters to 100,000 by 2020 and to double our annual exports to £1 trillion. This next year will see us developing our business model and helping more companies than ever – here’s to another several hundred business cards this coming financial year!

Patrick Ney
Director, BPCC Trade

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Bridging the Poland-UK trade gap in 2014

On Friday, the Office of National Statistics issued trade data for 2013. Generally, the UK’s trade deficit shrank slightly compared to 2012, but is still worse than it was in 2011.

Looking at the trade stats between the UK and Poland, there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that UK exports to Poland in 2013 were up 9.1% up on 2012; total value of UK exports of goods to Poland exceeded £3.8 billion.

And that’s the good news over and done with.

Britain’s trade deficit with Poland has grown by 9.9%, and stands at just under £4 billion. In fact the deficit is larger than the value of UK exports. Because Polish exports to the UK grew by 5% to a record £7.8 billion. In fact, only six markets have trade surpluses greater than Poland has with the UK. Poland’s £4 billion trade surplus with the UK exceeds that of France, Japan, Spain, Turkey or Russia.

So how can the UK bridge this trade gap with Poland?

Just to put that into perspective – the UK would have to sell 16,000 Rolls-Royce Phantoms, 400,000 Minis or 4.5 million Brompton bicycles, and this optimistically assumes that Poland’s exports to the UK won’t keep growing!

The real answer, of course, is a mixture of high value opportunities (some jet trainers, a few power stations, a high-speed rail line) and a large number of British SME exporters entering the solidly growing Polish market for the first time, making up in volume what their orders lack in value. And let’s not forget services – the ONS data is for trade in goods, but there are many services – financial and professional – that the UK can sell to Poland.

Later this week, Poland will release its trade stats for 2013; these will show which countries have been best at making the most of the opportunities the Polish market is offering the more entrepreneurially talented.

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Statistical Brit now only twice as well-off as statistical Pole

Though this research is in Polish, the infographics are easy to follow. Essentially, Poles are catching up with Brits in terms of living standards. Before EU entry, Poles were nominally seven times poorer than Brits, but in terms of purchasing power parity, the difference was three-fold. (Many products and services  -bread, haircuts, public transport, for example -are not readily tradable across borders. Take this into account and you have purchasing power parity.)

Over the past decade, the statistical Pole has gone a long way in making up the distance in living standards with the UK – the statistical Brit is only twice as well-off. It will take another 20-30 years to catch up fully, however.

See full story here

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Poland’s productivity growth among fastest in EU

Two reports confirm that Poland is rapidly catching up with western Europe in terms of productivity. OECD announced that Polish labour productivity grew by 3.4% in 2010 and 3.5% in 2011. And Eurostat data for 2012 showed productivity growth accelerating to 5.6%.

Compared to the EU average, which over the years 2008 to 2012 grew by a mere 0.5%, Polish productivity grew by 15.7%. And at the same time, real wages in Poland have held steady, indeed falling by 0.1% in 2012 compared to 2011.

Rapidly improving productivity, coupled with educational attainment that’s among the best in the world, rising transparency, improving ease of doing business, all couple together to make Poland an excellent location for foreign direct investment.



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