New export country series: Why Poland is a great market right on your doorstep

Poland might not be the first country that comes to mind when looking for export markets; France, Germany and the Netherlands all receive more exports from the UK. However, with one of the fastest-growing economies in the EU, and the only economy in Europe to have avoided recession between 2008 and 2013, Poland presents exciting opportunities for UK businesses. Here, I’ll give my views on why UK businesses should consider Poland in export plans.

How should UK businesses go about deciding which market to target? 

Before deciding where to go, you need to ensure that you are ready to take your business overseas. The benefits of exporting can be vast, but it is not without risks and requires perseverance. 

You need to make sure that you first have the financial capacity to start exporting as it inevitably requires investment before any returns are seen. Another question is resource, if sales increase quickly, are you equipped to deal with them?   

The next considerations are on the market and product itself. You need to determine where there is demand for your product or service, and then to see if your product needs to be adapted to suit a certain market. What works in one country will not necessarily work in another and this covers a wide range of aspects; firstly the product itself – is there demand? 

The next thing to consider is the marketing, things such as the name of your product, the size of the units and even the colour of the packaging can affect the way in which a product is received. 

In terms of the market itself, there are several considerations; how easy is it to do trade in that market? How will regulation affect you? Are there cultural differences that you need to be aware of?

It might seem daunting, and businesses can be put off, but the more research you can do in advance, the more likely you are to succeed. It can be hard to know where to look for this information, which is why Santander has created the Trade Portal. 

The Trade Portal helps businesses to identify the markets with the highest demand for their products, and has a wide range of practical information on global markets, to allow businesses to be as prepared as possible. 

Once this initial research has been carried out, the next stage is to create a market entry strategy. This should incorporate the information mentioned above, and then connections in the new market. This can be potential importers, distributors or local sector experts who will be able to give you honest feedback as to whether your business is ready to enter the market. Virtual trade missions, such as those run by Santander, are a good way to get this feedback without having to spend the time or money travelling to the market. Obviously, if you do decide to go ahead with this market, you will need to visit the market to meet new business partners, visit trade shows and connect with local partners.

So what are the benefits of operating in Poland?

There are several for UK businesses. Firstly, it is within the EU so regulation is simpler than in other export destinations. It also means that for UK businesses, any employees who carry an EU passport can visit and work in the country freely. In terms of Poland itself, it was ranked 25th in the World Bank’s “Ease of doing business ranking” in 2015, ahead of Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

Poland is the largest market in Central Europe and can act as a gateway to the emerging markets of Eastern Europe, and travel between the UK and Poland is very straightforward; there are over 300 flights a week between the two. Poland also has a large, highly-qualified workforce, many of whom are multilingual. This can be of great help when exporting overseas, as you will need local contacts to work with, as well as local employees. 

In addition to this, the Polish government offers support through investment incentives. This support comes in the form of a grant and can be applied for if you operate in various sectors including, but not limited to, automotive and aviation, biotechnology, research and development and food processing.

What challenges do businesses need to consider before entering the market?

As with many overseas markets, language and cultural barriers need to be considered. Whilst Poland is classified as having “very high proficiency” (higher than Germany, France or Spain) in the “Education First English Proficiency Index“, which measures the average level of English skills amongst adults, not all Poles will speak English and it is therefore important to make local connections who can attend business meetings with you in case of any language difficulties. 

Poland is also a competitive market and this is where research is key. You need to check what, if any, competition exists, and ensure that you are offering something different and pricing your products or services competitively. Another key challenge in Poland is complexity in tax administration. This is something that requires local expertise and having contacts on whom you can rely is imperative.

Whilst these challenges may seem intimidating, with the right support they can be overcome. There is a range of support available to UK businesses, including UKTI and local Chambers. Santander is helping UK businesses to find the connections they need overseas through its International Desk and network of third parties. Our multilingual teams can offer local expertise and guide you through unfamiliar processes, as well as connecting you to its network of local third parties to support you at every step. 

Exporting can help you grow your business as well as reduce your exposure to a single market through diversification. If you want to take your business to new markets, visit our site to find out more.

Have a look at our other Santander new export country articles

Getting over the economic uncertainty of Brazil

Dealing with the obstacles of trading with China

Getting your share of the exciting Indian market

Cracking the lucrative and sought-after US market

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