71 Summer 2020
CEO of Axell Group:
"It requires investment and creativity
to prevent Covid-19 regulations from driving up the costs"
• BNP Paribas Real Estate on the COVID-19 impact for shopping centres and offices • ING's Chief Economist on how fast the rebound will occur after COVID-19
Bulletin Summer 2020 4
NEWS FROM OUR CHAMBER
NPCC pays a visit to MKB Deventer, the new business hub of the NLinBusiness
Marc Fremouw, CEO of Axell Group, speaks about the impact of Covid-19 on his company and on the transport sector
Tomasz Lisewski, Managing Director of the Barrett Group, on helping high-level managers to make career changes
NPCC supports entrepreneurs during the Covid-19 crisis
R afał Benecki, Chief Economist at ING Bank Śląski, gives a forecast for the Polish economy over the Covid-19 crisis
News from NLinBusiness
Marc Fremouw, CEO of Axell Group: Covid-19 and the transport sector
21 NPCC TEST DRIVE Audi’s electric e-tron
Erik Drukker, CEO for Central and Eastern Europe at BNP Paribas Real Estate, talks about the challenges and changes for the real estate market
25 NEWS FROM THE EMBASSY 28 NEW MEMBERS 30 ARTICLE
FLEX LEASE – a response to the changing market
Remco van der Kroft
Erik Drukker, CEO for CEE at BNP Paribas Real Estate: How will the real estate market change?
Director’s note Dear Reader, I am writing this column while sitting in the office, all alone, in a totally empty room, with our team members working from home, both in Warsaw and the Netherlands. As you all know, Covid-19 has disrupted all our plans. However, we are safe and that’s the important thing at this moment. Since we can’t organise live meetings, and we are missing out on our real-life interaction with you, our members, we looked for a different approach and tried to find different ways to be of use. As a result, we have completely re-worked our annual calendar. Starting from 20 March, we were one of the first business organisations to hold webinars and online round tables on topics such as HR, legal issues, forecasts on the economy and information about how to apply for money under the anti-crisis shield. Our partner in this project, the Netherlands Embassy, has given us invaluable support, both financial and in terms of content, providing input for the topics and also co-organising with us several round tables with the CEOs of large multinationals. We have also received financial support from ING, who sponsored one of the webinars. This combined effort with our stakeholders has helped us to stay relevant for you during this crisis. And by doing so, we managed to gain some technical knowledge and experience in setting up and promoting webinars online.
Bulletin is the quarterly magazine of the NetherlandsPolish Chamber of Commerce. It gives a voice to our members and informs about the activities the Chamber undertakes. The views expressed in the columns are theirs alone. The Editor-in-Chief is not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made by the columnists. Publisher: NPCC
Columnists: Huub Droogh Staf Beems Remco van der Kroft Photos: Elro van den Burg Milena Zychowicz Netherlands Embassy in Poland Dorota Dabińska-Frydrych Advertisement management: NPCC Contact: www.nlchamber.com.pl firstname.lastname@example.org +48 22 419 54 44
It is good to see that individual members are reaching out with their requests for support. Over the past few months, and together with the International Group of Chambers of Commerce (IGCC), we have reached out several times to the Polish government with our remarks and requests for changes to the legislation on the anti-crisis shield measures. One of our successes has been the change in approach to Polish companies with more than 25% foreign capital. After our actions, the law was changed and now these companies are able to apply for government support as well. We also supported our members on the topic of Poland’s closed airports. We carried out a survey with the other international chambers and sent a letter to the Polish authorities asking that the airports be opened as soon as possible since their continued closure is harming international business. We are also currently working on our new Members Directory that will be published in the summer. We are still looking for sponsors, so if you would like to reach out to new clients and make yourself visible in the Dutch community, please contact me. I can offer you some attractive last-minute terms.
Managing Editor: Anna Zadrożna
Since many other organisations have started to organise webinars on similar topics, we see that interest is slowly changing and now our Knowledge Circles are gaining momentum. On 10 June, we had the first online meeting of our HR knowledge group, with the participants consisting of a small group of HR directors from our member companies who focused on sharing best practices and discussing issues in their branch. In the coming months, we will roll out other Knowledge Group Circles on the life science and Agro sectors, and at end of this year we will organise the first meeting of the IT group.
I have also been contacted by some members who are looking forward to the next Orange Ball and wanted to know about the status of our flagship event. We had a sit-down with the committee and, unfortunately, it looks very unlikely that we will be organising this event in September, but we will look at the situation again at the end of August and inform you via our communication channels when we have reached a final decision. Lastly, I would just like to say that I hope you are all staying healthy and managing during this unusual current situation. We wish you a happy holiday period with some time to reflect and relax during this Corona crisis. Are we getting it right? Let me know at email@example.com Elro van den Burg Managing Director of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
OUR PLATINUM SPONSORS
Activities of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
Due to the current situation caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce has switched from face-to-face networking meetings to fully online meetings. Please check our calendar on www.nlchamber.com.pl to see all our upcoming webinars, round table meetings and other activities. We hope to meet all of you in person again as soon as possible.
news and events
NPCC worried about closed Polish airspace In response to numerous requests from the international business community in Poland, the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce (NPCC) conducted a survey of the consequences of keeping the international airports in Poland closed. The results were passed on to the Dutch media, which resulted in a report on the topic by BNR Nieuwsradio and other media outlets. A letter was also sent to the Polish government with a request to open the airports as quickly as possible. Although Polandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s land borders are partially open, and the quarantine obligation for traffic crossing the border has already been lifted, international flights in Poland had not yet resumed by the time this magazine went to print. In the survey, 85% of the respondents said they have
been affected to some extent by the measure, with the decision to keep the borders closed having a significant impact on 31% of the companies. The survey was carried out among Dutch nationals in Poland and members of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce. Other bilateral chambers also conducted identical surveys at the end of May with comparable results. A total of 315 companies in Poland responded to these surveys. The International Group of Chambers of Commerce (IGCC) wrote a letter to the
Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz, and Secretary of State Marcin HoraĹ&#x201A;a from the Ministry of Transport, presenting the survey results and requesting that international air travel be allowed to resume as soon as possible since the travel ban is having a major impact on foreign companies in Poland. The letter was signed by the bilateral chambers in Poland of the Netherlands (NPCC), Germany, France, Austria, Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries. This is not the first time during the Covid-19 crisis that the NPCC has raised such issues with the Polish government. In May, together with the IGCC, we successfully objected to access to the Anti-Crisis Shield being restricted for certain companies. As a result, the restrictions were lifted for Polish companies that are more than 25% foreignowned.
news and events
NPCC reaches almost 600 people with online meetings
Participants Webinars and Round Tables NPCC/NLEmbassy
Starting on 20 March, the NPCC, together with the NL Embassy, has been organising a regular series of round tables and webinars for Dutch managers in Poland. The aim of the meetings is to support Dutch companies in Poland during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing especially on Dutch managers who were lacking information on the government’s measures and on the Polish market in general. We have presented a wide range of topics featuring quality speakers such as top economists and representatives of the Polish government, as well as legal and HR specialists. As of 7 May, we had reached 566 people, 246 of whom had viewed the events on Facebook, with an average of 36 participants on both channels per meeting. We will
Participants Duch nationality 28.1% Live viewers Facebook 43.5% Participants Polish or other nationality 28.4%
be continuing this series until 9 July and then we will decide in the summer about our calendar for Q3 and Q4 for this year.
20.03 - Coronavirus: Air transport and passenger rights – Claims Corporation Network 24.03 - The most important HR issues during the corona crisis – Déhora Consultancy Group 25.03 - Tax measures related to COVID-19: What are the available solutions for tax reliefs? – NGL Legal 26.03 - Supply chain interruptions, contract fulfilment issues, liability of the management board during the corona crisis – OKW 31.03 - Recommendations for entrepreneurs on the Polish market – Randstad 01.04 - How to use the solutions from the Anti-Crisis Act in a practical way? – Crido 02.04 - The economic impact of the corona crisis and governmental measures – BNP Paribas Bank 07.04 - FAQs on COVID-19 in business matters in Poland – JDP Drapała & Partners 09.04 - Coronavirus: The economic impact and policy measures – Polityka Insight 14.04 - Shield 2.0: What’s new? – Fortak & Karasiński Radcowie Prawni 16.04 - What is the impact of coronavirus on the commercial real estate retail sector in Poland? – BNP Paribas Real Estate 21.04 - P ost-Corona Labour Market: What challenges and changes can we expect in Poland and how can we prepare to deal with them? – Boyden 23.04 - Coronavirus disease: Food&Agri sector implications – BNP Paribas Bank 28.04 - Dismissal of an employee in times of crisis: How to do it right? – UBP Consulting 30.04 - Communication and PR in times of (COVID-19) crisis and beyond – 24/7 Communication 07.05 - COVID-19 and its impact on the real estate office sector – BNP Paribas Real Estate 12.05 - Anti-Crisis Shield v.2 and v.3: What’s new for business in legal, tax and HR areas? – JDP Drapała & Partners 14.05 - Digital transformation: A need or a necessity? How did COVID-19 force the world to use technology? – PWC 19.05 - How to survive the recruitment freeze? – Executive & Friends 27.05 - African Swine Fever situation in Poland 28.05 - B riefing and discussion: Ministry of Economic Development on economic outlook and investing in recovery – Aleksander Siemaszko, Deputy Director, Department for Trade and International Cooperation, Ministry of Economic Development
Column Huub Droogh Huub Droogh is an urbanist and partner of RDH Urban in Poznań
Crisis? What crisis? ‘It will become the biggest crisis for 100 years, the black swan in financial accounts’ – this is a quote from Kees van Dijkhuizen, until 1 May the CEO of the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO. He wrote it on 18 April in ‘Het Financieel Dagblad’ – the Dutch equivalent of the Financial Times – after finishing a video conference with colleagues from European and American banking institutions. Government deficits, SME bankruptcies, rising unemployment among corporate employees and increased tax pressure on those who are still economically active: the recipe for the next 3-5 years is a familiar one. And, as always, it will be the working middle class who will pick up most of the bill. The real rich will stay rich and the genuinely poor will become just a little poorer. A serious crisis is usually the prelude to a new era in the world’s geopolitical history. And by serious crisis I mean ones like last century’s world wars, the great depression, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 or the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Facing two parallel crises (with both situations deserving that description) – the climate crisis and the post-COVID-19 economic crisis – there can be no doubt that we are entering a new chapter in world history. ‘Never waste a good crisis,’ said Winton Churchill. The first crisis – purification – has already taken place among the world’s leaders: those who are passing the test of providing decent and justified crisis management (such as the leaders of New Zealand, certain Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands) and those leaders who are sinking into the swamp of moral incompetence (like China, the USA, the UK and Poland). It will just take a little time before history hands them their paychecks. But, as history also teaches us, it isn’t the first round which decides who will win or lose the game in the end… A crisis forces society to activate unused resources of creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. Poland is one of those countries holding strong cards for a U-turn – after a brief economic dip – to a new era of prosperity.
The need for internationally operating companies to reduce the vulnerability of their supply chains – as well as the growing geopolitical sentiment against China – will place Eastern Europe in pole position to adopt a new wave of investments. ‘Produce locally’ means – within our global world – ‘produce within the continent’. Within Europe, it will be the Eastern part which is the most promising candidate to replace China as the main manufacturer for strategic and vulnerable supply chains. Poland’s well-developed infrastructure and relatively low salaries is a good starting point to adopt this kind of investment. The upcoming increase in unemployment will only strengthen the already-existing investment climate. But… how to ensure that the upcoming wave of investments will be implemented in a country whose government’s policy is to focus on raping democratic values and its independent justice system, just to establish a narrow-minded nationalistic dictatorship? Poland’s immediate future lays in the hands of its big cities. Forced by the rapidly changing sentiments of younger generations of consumers, the new conditions of the EU’s ‘green deal policy’, as well as the restrictions developed by Western European countries for those corporations asking for financial support, new investments should be ‘green’. Polish cities which are progressive and independent in how they think and act can cash in on this opportunity by establishing ‘Green Economic Zones’. These successors to the ‘Free Economic Zones’ will not provide tax advantages, but free public transport and a well-developed bicycle infrastructure. The hosting cities will team up with companies generating their own green energy, and furnish the areas with a green infrastructure to increase stormwater infiltration and avoid urban health stress. Entering these zones means international companies will not only get access to EU green funds, but they will also be praised by their shareholders and consumers for showing such socially responsible entrepreneurship after COVID-19. Crisis? What crisis?
This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.
MKB Deventer to Warsaw…
A report by the MD of the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce (NPCC) on his visit to MKB Deventer, which has become a business hub and, just like the NPCC, part of the NLinBusiness network On 2 March, I visited MKB Deventer with the NL Business Hub directors from Bangkok, Bogotá and Kuala Lumpur, with the aim of meeting companies with export plans from that region. The day started pleasantly and cheerfully at the picturesque station of Deventer, where I met director Hans van den Born from the Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce (NTCC) and International Business Manager Annemarie Dijkman from NLinBusiness. It turned out that Deventer was Hans’s hometown, and during the taxi ride to MKB Deventer he told us all kinds of interesting facts about the city, including the latest economic developments there. It was good preparation for the visits planned for the day. Director Marco Kok of MKB Deventer, who has been the face of this organisation for 25 years, has a vibrant personality and is a born networker. He’s definitely the right man in the right place, as a network hub needs someone in that role who lives off his contacts. We were then introduced to board members Geddy van Elburg and Erik de Boer, both of whom also appear to have a substantial entrepreneurial network in the city. At our request, MKB Deventer
Business Hub directors visit the laboratory of Senzora where the washing powder is tested
had put together an extensive afternoon programme with visits to various local companies who all want to do business on the Polish market. MKB Deventer is the new loot at the NLinBusiness stem. The collaboration has helped NLinBusiness to further expand its wide local network in the Netherlands and it is an important step for us as the NL Business Hub in Poland. Thanks to NLinBusiness, we at the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce (NPCC) are able to reach local entrepreneurs in the Netherlands and show the opportunities and possibilities available in Poland for SME entrepreneurs.
In the afternoon we visited three companies. All three were warm contacts of Marco, Erik and Geddy and all three are looking for leads in Poland. We started at the office of Smart Documents, which organises document automation for large companies in the Netherlands. They have developed a smart solution to easily offer their services abroad and they are very interested in coming to Poland. Then we visited detergent manufacturer Senzora, a company which started off in the 19th century in the centre of Deventer as a grocery store but now sells its white label washing powders worldwide. The market in Poland is currently very interesting for these products, which is why Senzora was interested in discussing the opportunities with us. We were also given a tour of the company’s new factory, and what an impressively large production facility they have there.
The visitors also got the possibility to take a look at the production of crystal soda at the factory of Senzora in Deventer
It takes up too much time for local network organisations abroad to maintain contacts with local networks in the Netherlands on a regular basis. But now that we are linked via NLinBusiness to organisations such as MKB Deventer, that circle is closing. Warsaw, Elro van den Burg, Director NPCC, part of the NL Business Hub network
What are NL Business Hubs? NLinBusiness is a joint initiative of the Confederation of Dutch Business and the Ministries of Foreign and Economic affairs, which aims to support Dutch companies in their international expansion. Globally, NLinBusiness has selected 40 Cities of Opportunity where Dutch SME entrepreneurs have the highest chance to do successful business. One of them is Warsaw. The premises of Koninklijke Auping that display the history of the company
The final visit was to the famous bed manufacturer Koninklijke Auping [Royal Auping]. The company started in 1888 producing health mattresses, and its first models are on display in its showroom illustrating the company’s history. Employing over 300 employees and with a strong brand image on the Dutch market, the company is currently concentrating new efforts on export and is looking to expand into central Europe, among other places. In Poland, we will now investigate together how they can enter the market. In addition to these three companies, there are also plans with other companies to increase trade with Poland. This shows the usefulness of our chamber’s collaboration with NLinBusiness.
NLinBusiness is actively building NL Business Hubs in these cities or cooperates with existing business networks such as the NPCC. Entrepreneurs are supported operationally from these NL Business Hubs and referred to reliable local service providers. This includes matters such as establishing a legal entity, opening a bank account, renting office space and finding qualified personnel. In addition to Warsaw, the hub network also provides operational support for Dutch entrepreneurs in cities such as Bangkok, Bucharest, Bogotá, Dubai, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Mexico City, Munich, Panama City, São Paolo and Santiago.
More information? Then visit the website: www.nlinbusiness.com
Photo: Dorota Dabińska-Frydrych
“Renewed demand for flexible supply chains due to Covid-19”
Bulletin talked to Marc Fremouw, CEO of Axell Group, about the impact Covid-19 has had on his company and on the transport business as a whole.
a 25% drop in volumes and operational puzzles to get their trucks back to Poland, or they had to find subcontractors that were still willing to drive abroad.”
Can you give us a description of how your business has been impacted by the Coronavirus? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? Marc Fremouw: “The Netherlands started reporting Covid-19 infections a few weeks before Poland did. However, the Polish government was quicker and more drastic with the measures it took. I was in Warsaw when it was announced that the airport and borders were going to be closed the next day. I had to reschedule my flight, to avoid having to hire a car and drive back to Amsterdam. I also noticed more fear here about the virus than in the Netherlands, where, for a long time, most people were quite complacent. As usual, Polish people seemed to be more disciplined with regard to the new rules of social distancing. Besides the safety measures that have obviously had to be implemented for our colleagues in all warehouses and offices, our business has mainly been impacted by three different things. Firstly, the closure of the factories supplying the car manufacturing industry meant our employment agency in Silesia had to scale down the number of temporary workers by about 40% at the end of March. Since most workers came from Ukraine, and Axell Employment also takes care of their housing and transport, we needed to quickly scale down the number of housing locations and support them with transport back to Ukraine. It was quite a logistical challenge! The second development that had an impact was the closure of the shopping malls. Axell Logistics performs warehousing, labelling and distribution services for several retailers who were suddenly faced with store closures. Thanks to our flexible workforce, we could quickly scale down in terms of temporary workers and renew labour contracts for a maximum of 50% of the original working time. In that way, we were able to retain as many jobs as possible. The third major factor which had an impact was the lockdown imposed by many different countries. Our international forwarders were suddenly faced with
Was it difficult to apply for government support in Poland, and was it different in the Netherlands? “The process of applying for government support in Poland was not too difficult. The complexity was more about deciding in which departments the working time and salaries should be decreased by 20%, and which departments would be critical for the quick recovery of the business. Moreover, the fact that we had to base the application on the loss of revenue in April, while actually reducing the working time in May, was also an issue. After all, in early May we were already seeing the first signs of recovery. When, and to what extent, the recovery would materialise was unclear, however. So for some of our Polish companies, we had to apply for government support. In the Netherlands, we didn’t meet the criteria of revenue loss so no application process was started.” What particular safety measures have you implemented for your drivers and your clients? “As in most companies, whoever was able to work from home did so. In the offices we kept a minimum number of staff to perform the critical tasks, while in the warehouses we checked everybody’s temperature before they entered. Any employee or visitor
showing signs of flu was immediately asked to leave the premises. Of course, we also supplied sufficient disinfectant gels, gloves and face masks to all our employees.” What happened with the volume of loads in the markets where you operate? Was there a big decrease? If so, in which market in particular and how did you cope with that? “The biggest decrease was caused by the closing of stores (retail logistics) and car manufacturers (employment). The only action we could take was to scale down as much as possible. Of course, there was also an enormous effort to gain new business, but the sales processes were extremely difficult and inefficient. Our services can not be sold by phone.” How will the transport and logistics market change after this crisis? “The extent to which our markets will recover depends largely on the levels of unemployment and consumer spending after the crisis. The more experts you listen to, the more predictions you get. However, it seems unavoidable that there will be a loss of business. We can only hope that opening up the borders and supply chains will not take too long. In that respect, it was interesting to see that the European Union suddenly stopped playing any kind of role and every single country introduced their own measures. During the crisis, there was a shift towards more e-commerce, which our logistics companies experienced both in the Netherlands and in Poland. I expect part of this shift to be permanent. In terms of health and safety, there will also be more permanent changes to
Solid expansion of Axell Group Axell Group is a Dutch family-owned business offering logistics and employment services both in the Netherlands and in Poland. For almost 90 years, Axell Group has been offering warehousing, value added services, transport and temporary employment services to customers in various industries. Axell Group currently employs 500 staff and 2,500 temporary employees. The Timmermans family established their first business in Poland over 25 years ago.
take into account in our warehousing and value added services. It will require some investment and a lot of creativity to prevent the new health and safety rules driving up the cost of services.” Where do you see new opportunities in the market due to the Coronavirus? “The biggest opportunity for Axell Group probably lies in the renewed demand for flexibility in supply chains. The awareness of how vulnerable companies can be when their supply chain costs are fixed will lead to a rethink over concepts about employment and logistics. Furthermore, there will most probably be a shift in sourcing and storage of key products. To reduce the risks, the number of suppliers might increase and so will the stock levels close to market. This will require more warehousing capacity downstream. ”
“It’s not so easy to change career” In February, Tomasz Lisewski, the former managing director of Philips Polska, became the managing director of the Barrett Group Europe, an agency that helps high-level managers to make career changes. Bulletin talked to him about his new company. Can you tell us something more about the Barrett Group and what you do for managers looking to change position? "After leaving a corporate life, I realised that it’s not so easy to change career and find your next role because the recruitment industry serves the needs of companies first. So I started to look for a different, better way. In the US, I found a model that works for individual executives, helping them to target the industries and companies of their choice and getting them in front of the decision-makers to present their value directly. This is the socalled unpublished job market, which represents 75% of executive recruitment. That’s why I joined the Barrett Group and that’s what we help executives to achieve in Europe."
You have extensive experience on both the Polish and Dutch markets. How does this experience help you in your new position? "It helps me a lot because the executive job market has become a Europe-wide game. More and more companies are recruiting across Europe now, and more and more executives are open to moving to another country. So understanding how the markets work in different countries, also including Germany, the UK and Switzerland, is an advantage." What has changed in your industry due to the COVID-19 virus? "Many European companies have obviously put hiring on hold, planning to start it again in Q3, but a number of companies are also still continuing with their recruitment, building their bench up so they are ready for when their business opens up again. It’s also very selective by industry. Some industries, especially travel and hospitality, have been very negatively affected, but others, such as IT, healthcare, food and groceries, are doing quite well and are still hiring. Therefore, if someone wants to find a new role, it’s better to start now because the longer they wait, the more competition there will be for fewer posts."
Column Staf Beems Entrepreneur and owner of Silesia Consulting
CORONA: what did we learn? Do not think that this column is too late to be of use. In the second week of March, Europe/Holland realised that the Coronavirus was more than an accident. At first, it was treated like some kind of “far from my bed” show. China – so far away and "so what?" Now we all know what this "so what" meant. In case you, like me, are wondering how a virus could start, then I suggest you read Dean Koontz’s book "The Eyes of Darkness”, published in 1981. In Chapter 39, he writes about a laboratory in Wuhan producing a virus called Wuhan 400. I’m not making this up! However, we should not forget that the virus has left deep scars with so many people that they will not, and cannot, forget. So many people have died in the most terrible conditions, while many more have also lost their jobs, their business and money. I thought – when I was young – that there could be no new events anymore. But hijacking planes was new, 9/11 was new and this virus is number three. Coming back to the Coronavirus crisis, I thought about my experiences in various countries facing a variety of difficult conditions. What were the lessons? a. Do not get into a panic and/or do not show that you are in a panic. b. Prepare yourself for long days. You should not run a marathon; it’s better to walk it instead. And always walk slowly because if you run, you will end up gasping for breath, and that could look as if you are stressed or scared. c. O rganise things from the first moment to make sure that when you have to sleep, somebody else can replace you. Back to business. Three different commercial friends/partners (CEOs) from Bulgaria, Holland and Poland have called me and asked me for advice on how to act. Their situation is similar – local companies, with foreign shareholders, involved in plastic food packaging. Their businesses could actually continue but we were faced with lockdowns and the uncertainty of not knowing how the market would react.
My suggestions: 1. Organise a meeting in the factory with all your employees and make an open statement avoiding "open ends". If you don’t know something, tell them. Nominate an employee who will act from now as the "Corona/Hygiene Manager" responsible for hygiene in and around the company. 2. M ake contact with your shareholder and inform him about your plan/actions. Make it clear that all information from HQ should come to you and vice versa. 3. S tart the meeting with positive news – we are healthy, our products are needed, there’s no reason to worry. 4. C reate a kind of emergency response team. As well as the current members of the MT, add some other important players, such as the head of maintenance, an experienced truck driver, the head of materials supply, an HR specialist, two experienced production employees, the company doctor and the hygiene manager. 5. Meet daily in the morning. 6. Invite everybody in the company to come up with suggestions. 7. Y ou and other members of the MT – if allowed – should always be in the office. 8. Office workers should operate from their home office. 9. The sales team should contact all customers to inform them that the factory will be operating, but at the same time check their financial situation. Overdue invoices have to be paid before new orders will be accepted. 10. I f the factory will be operating 24/7, make a plan so that there is always one MT member in the factory, including yourself (and you should start with a night shift), to create the feeling of “being in this together”. 11. V ery importantly, do not phone your HQ to tell them that you are in complete control. That should be self-evident. You are in charge and should not ask for compliments. Our observations: a. Some managers looked for excuses to work at home. b. H ome office results were disappointing. c. The sales team could not reach their contacts and suggested that their colleagues from finance should solve the issue of overdue invoices. d. Some quite useful suggestions came from the production department, especially from "lower level" employees. Final conclusions: In good weather, everybody wants to go sailing with you. But who wants to go on board a boat in bad weather? We saw who can help you win a "war", and who can help you lose one! 1. After the Coronavirus crisis, make use of this experience. 2. You may be able to reduce office staff. 3. If you have disappointing sales people, wish them good luck elsewhere. 4. Reward those who were able to work under pressure with more money and/or a better position. 5. The women in Bulgaria and Poland turned out to be more pragmatic than the men! firstname.lastname@example.org
This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.
“The regular stabilising factors in Poland are not working” Rafał Benecki, Chief Economist at ING Bank Śląski Bulletin set up an online video interview with economist Rafał Benecki, from ING Bank Śląski, to discuss Covid-19 and what we can expect from the Polish economy. What is your forecast for GDP growth for 2020? “I expect GDP decline of 4.5% in Poland this year. We finalised our forecast in the middle of March, and since then the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission have released quite similar numbers. Also, the Ministry of Finance started with a forecast for GDP of 0%, then it was -3.4% and in the last few days it’s even down to -4% or -5%. So, the international institutions and the government’s official forecast are leaning towards our direction.” What has caused this more negative tendency compared to the forecasts from earlier in the Covid-19 crisis? “Essentially, I think we now have more knowledge about how deep the impact of the global recession will be on local domestic demand and also the impact on our international trading partners. I point out very often that the Covid-19 recession will be quite painful for Poland especially since the regular stabilising factors – domestic demand and consumption – are not working now. The previous recession hit Germany and the entire EU; however, it didn’t affect Poland so much as there was still positive growth here. But this is a totally different ballgame and Covid-19 is having a big impact on Polish domestic demand. Due to the lockdown of shops, people are not spending and this expenditure is a crucial element in stabilising the internal market. And secondly, we also know more about the situation in the Eurozone, where GDP will shrink by 8-10%, including domestic demand. This is a different situation from the trade wars that we had last year, when manufacturing was in recession but the internal Eurozone market was quite sound. However, this time around, the weakness of the Eurozone’s internal demand is very painful. Since some time has now passed, we have more data on the shock in the Eurozone and in Poland, so we can see the other institutions downgrading their forecasts too.”
How do you compare the -4.5% downturn for Poland to the forecasts for other countries. Is Poland during Covid-19 still the ‘green island’ in Europe? “We at ING see GDP in the Eurozone contracting by 8%. But in selected countries the situation could be quite different, for instance -9% in France, -7% in Germany and -6.8% for the Netherlands. In Italy, we forecast -10%. So Poland is looking better than other countries in the Eurozone and it is also doing better than its neighbouring countries that largely rely on the automotive sector. For the Czech Republic, the forecast is -7% versus Poland at -4.5%. Romania should be quite comparable, but at -5.5% it is still slightly weaker than Poland. So Poland is doing a little better than the Eurozone and also a little better than its neighbours in central Europe. A recession is approaching, however, and this is something new for the Polish economy.” Polish consumers have helped economic growth in the past. What can you say about the current level of consumer confidence? “For this year, we forecast that private consumption should shrink by around 2-3%, which has never happened before. Usually, in the worst of times, for example during the fiscal crisis in the Eurozone in 2012/2013, Polish consumption was growing slightly below 1%. But it was still growing. One year after the Lehman Brothers collapse, in 2009, we still had consumption growing by 3.6% so the current picture is quite different. There are a few factors that are causing this weakness in domestic demand in Poland. The first one is the lockdown that is affecting trade and market services. We estimated that with every week that the economy is closed, GDP is reduced by 1.6% in a given quarter. Secondly, we expect a slowdown in wage increases. Last year, the average wage increase was 6.6%, but in comparison we expect 3%, or even lower, for this year. If we focus on month by month, we can see that it went from almost 8% in February to 1.9% in April and it may become even weaker in the coming months. On the employment side, therefore, we have returned to the situation we observed in Poland more or less in 2009. Employment in April contracted by 2.1%. So initially, the “weak” wages plus the contraction in employment is partially caused by the recession and partially by the fiscal programmes allowing companies to force people to work part-time.
In addition, there is also the impact of the natural recession, so people are losing their jobs. Flexible temporary contracts are notbeing prolonged, in addition to the people who are simply being fired. The biggest rise in unemployment should take place in the middle of the year, since Polish labour law allows a 1-3-month transition period when people lose their jobs. The biggest rise in unemployment is still ahead of us, therefore, and that is expected to be around 8-10% at its peak. This would also affect consumers’ potential to spend, causing a second-round effect. An additional factor that we should take into consideration is that people could be quite cautious with new spending, given that epidemiologists are warning that we should expect more waves of the new epidemic to come. Possibly after the summer, or during the colder winter months, some kinds of restrictions may return. So simply speaking, the margins of companies will be lower as people will spend less money on goods or services. Furthermore, in shops and other service centres, fewer clients may be served because of social distancing. The propensity to spend money will therefore be lower due to worries about jobs, income and the epidemic, but also on
the corporate side, it will be much more difficult to get similar margins as before.” And how big is the psychologic effect on people? Since they are afraid to spend as worse situations may happen in the future? “If we look at the consumer indexes, they are extremely low at the moment, so that reflects people’s attitudes.” What can you say about the production output of factories? “Looking at the data from April, production decreased by 25%, which was below expectations. This can be explained by several factors. First of all, there was no official lockdown in Polish manufacturing because the epidemic in Poland wasn’t that painful. Still some sectors closed voluntarily since their counterparties in the Eurozone had stopped working or because their markets were closed in many Eurozone countries. So, for example, the automotive and furniture sectors were forced to close their businesses almost entirely, and the production decrease in those sectors reached 70-90%, which is really painful.
But overall, all exporters are suffering. Also, our local demand was weaker as Poland also experienced a lockdown. The government anti-crisis measures allowed limiting production during the peak of the outbreak. This is similar to “Kurzarbeitergeld” in Germany. So that also affected production and explains why the decrease was so high. We follow high frequency data, such as production consumption, and unfortunately, the data for the first two weeks of May is showing very limited recovery. Average production / energy consumption decreased by 8% in April, while in the first two weeks of May it fell by 7%, so it doesn’t show much change yet. Some automotive companies are reopening production at the moment, but they are still working significantly under capacity, which is probably why we can see that energy consumption is still at a low level.” Do you expect a large wave of bankruptcies in the coming months? “In the short term, things should actually look fine for the Polish corporate sector due to the huge fiscal programme that has been set up. We compared governmental anti-Covid-19 programmes across Europe, as well as globally. The Polish programme was aimed at providing significant support, which is a burden for the budget, but benefits companies. We see that the Polish anti-crisis shield measures account for 11% of GDP, while in Germany and Italy that figure is close to 30% of GDP. In Slovakia and Hungary, however, the percentage is closer to 12-13%. The programmes in Poland should help, but of course they will not solve the problem completely and we expect that unemployment may grow. Some companies are complaining that the support is coming too late and they are struggling to survive without this aid. I would say that these kinds of issues will really help to smooth the transition back to the previous normal situation but they will not solve the problem and prevent the recession.” How fast do you expect the recovery to be? Is Poland going to go into this very smoothly or do you see many issues in this? “Actually, it is quite natural that after an epidemic the recovery is initially very rapid. For all countries, up to 50-60% of the previous negative drop will be recovered. So initially, if we have a percentage contraction
of GDP of, in the first half year, let’s say 9%, then we will see recovery making up to 60% of the initial decline. So initially the recovery will be fast, and people will be optimistic about that. However, I am worried that this is nothing unusual and is very typical for an epidemic. The main question is: When will we return to the previous level of GDP? That might be in the middle of next year, but actually the recovery on the labour market will take longer. There are worries that behind this fast recovery there will still be problems with returning to previous business due to new waves of the epidemic and the possibility of restrictions such as social distancing being re-introduced. So, all together, that is the factor that allows us to expect that next year’s GDP growth will be close to 3.5%. We would also point out that even before the epidemic, Polish private investments were not optimistic since consumers had not been that keen to spend all the new social benefits. In other words, the previous 5% growth was very much boosted by the new social spending and fiscal stimulus but those instruments may be less effective now when they will be very needed. It is likely that the Polish government will try to launch new central investment projects, aiming to help GDP and increase growth. However, I think that to be able to return to stable high growth, we will need higher private investments, obtained by households having to worry less about losing their jobs or new outbreaks. I am worried that this may take a long time, also because there was too much stimulus before the Covid-19 pandemic. There were other negative factors, such as companies being cautious to invest, and that’s why I’m sceptical about returning to high stable growth. Still, 3.5% GDP growth is a nice number and it may turn out to be higher, but for the next few years, as I said, the initial rebound will be quite high. But the question is whether in 2022 and 2023 we can return to the initial 4-5% GDP growth or if we will stay in freefall.” What can you say about European funds? “Unfortunately, the low point in the EU budget may come after Covid-19. This is an additional risk – the low point in the EU cycle as well as private business confidence possibly not recovering and private investment staying subdued. A lot will therefore depend on state money, which is not a good instrument for the long-term growth of the economy.”
NL IN BUSINESS NLinBusiness Global Corona Survey – impact of coronavirus on International Trade This spring, NLinBusiness is conducting three surveys to measure the impact of coronavirus on Dutch businesses globally and to make sure that their concerns are heard in the Netherlands. The first survey was carried out in March, and the second one took place this month.
SEVERE IMPACT CORONA CRISIS ON DUTCH BUSINESS ABROAD:
The survey was completed by 754 Dutch entrepreneurs or companies that are part of the Dutch group in approximately 15 countries.
FINDINGS 2ND GLOBAL SURVEY IMPACT COVID 19 ON 754 DUTCH BUSINESS IN 15 MAJOR ECONOMIES WORLDWIDE.
Research among Dutch businesses in the major countries around the world shows that the impact of the coronavirus crisis has been severe. 90% of Dutch businesses abroad expect a negative impact on turnover, with an average decrease of 46% in 2020 turnover anticipated. Smaller companies (<10 employees) fear an average loss of income of 60%, while companies with 250+ employees expect a decrease of 26%.
The results of the survey were picked up and published by numerous media outlets in the Netherlands. Do you want to know more about the main findings and read the report? Go to www.nlinbusiness.com
Round table with Jacco Vonhof – MKB Nederland NLinBusiness organised together with the president of MKB Nederland, Jacco Vonhof, an online SME round table on the measures and impact of coronavirus on Dutch SMEs active in international trade and located in North-West Europe. During the round table, Jacco Vonhof spoke with entrepreneurs from Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom to hear the problems they are facing while doing business abroad and to find out where they need support. Representatives from the chambers of commerce in Poland, Germany and the UK were also present and gave useful insights into the current European market.
Events & Activities Wednesday 20 May, the NPCC was invited to host the webinar “Doing Business in Poland”, organised by MKB Deventer and Trade Centre Deventer. Elro van den Burg and Ben van de Vrie from the NPCC gave their insights into the opportunities Poland has to offer for creative and innovative Dutch entrepreneurs. They also elaborated on the current situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Poland from an entrepreneurial perspective. Do you want to know more about NLinBusiness and business activities in Poland? Go to our platform: www.nlinbusiness.com.
The input from the meeting was used to further define the MKB Nederland and VNONCW international action plan to revive international trade. NLinBusiness works together with MKB Nederland, amongst others, to support Dutch entrepreneurs in doing business. Are you active internationally and you have questions about doing business? Our NL Business Hubs are there to support entrepreneurs all over the world. Find the contact details on our dedicated Corona Help webpage and make an appointment via https://nlinbusiness.com/ corona-hulp.
NPCC Test Drive
Something to wish for: Audi’s electric e-tron The e-tron is Audi’s first fully-electric production car, and a competitor to the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes EQC and Tesla Model S. Let’s start with its looks. The front looks like a regular Audi and it doesn’t scream out that it is an SUV, which is fine, although we would have liked a few more visual accents to distinguish the electric model from regular combustion engine Audis. But that’s just a matter of personal preference. The e-tron has matrix LED headlights that can partly blank out part of the beam so you don’t dazzle other drivers.
The e-tron has 2 electric motors – one at the front and one at the back – which gives it 4-wheel drive, and combined they produce 408 bhp. The 95 kWh battery takes 9 hours to charge from empty to full using an 11 kW wall charger at home, but if you can find a 150 kW fast charger, then this time is cut to just 50 minutes. The charging points are on both sides of the car and the e-tron comes with a special app for your mobile which allows you to do things like heat and cool the cabin remotely, or set a specific charging time so you can take advantage of special tariffs. It also has voice control so, in theory, you can control household devices from your car. What we like about the car is the fact that 90% of the braking is done using the electric motors to recoup lost energy. This actually entails the motors working in reverse and operating like a dynamo putting charge back into the batteries. The car has gear-changing paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but they don’t operate the gear box. Instead, they can alter the severity of the regenerative braking. The friction brakes only come into play when you need to brake harder than 0.3 g. If you do need to use the actual brakes, the transition between regenerative braking and normal braking is quite natural.
The interior of the e-tron is classic Audi, so it is quite minimalistic and nicely laid out, though still futuristic enough without seeming to try too hard. The car comes with three beautiful infotainment screens with in-built satellite navigation, although we actually found the infotainment system in the Mercedes to be a bit better. The e-tron has particularly good leather seats, heated and very comfortable, which, together with the excellent suspension, makes this a very comfortable car to drive.
The e-tron also drives nicely on the motorway. It is super quiet, even at high speeds, especially with the option of having acoustic glass that keeps out all the wind noise. It is a heavy car, which does hamper it a little through the bends, but it wasn’t annoying for a car of this size and weight. Overall, the car made a very positive impression on us, and we found it to be the most luxurious electric SUV currently on the market.
It is also a nice car to travel in as a rear passenger. There is a lot of room for your knees, for instance, and you can also put your feet under the seat in front of you to stretch out. The seat is quite high, but you still have decent headroom, and there are 2 USB ports and a 12V socket in the back, too. What we didn’t like, however, is that the back windows don’t go all the way down. The boot space is massive, and there is more space in the back than in the Jaguar I-Pace and the Mercedes EQC, and when the rear seats are down it even offers enough room for a bike with both wheels on. And since the space under the bonnet just has to house an electric motor, there is also a front trunk (or frunk) providing extra space to store your charging cables and other small accessories. The Netherlands Polish Chamber of Commerce was invited to test this car by Planet Car Lease
How Covid-19 changes the way we work Erik Drukker, CEO for Central and Eastern Europe in BNP Paribas Real Estate Can you describe the past month(s) since the COVID-19 crisis started in Poland and how it has changed your business? Apart from switching to working online, what has changed in your daily work? Erik Drukker: “The arrival of the pandemic took us all a bit by surprise and our team, like everybody, was forced to switch to home office very quickly, although I personally went in to the office every day. A smooth transition would not have been possible without the carefully thought-out measures for exchanging information using various online platforms. We implemented crisis procedures within a matter of days, not only to guarantee the continuity of our work and to serve our clients, but also to prioritise the safety of our employees and business partners. The needs of our clients also changed and required an immediate response from us. Many transactional decisions required re-examination as bank financing practically came to a complete halt in our industry, with occupiers not able to see their potential new properties and many retailers challenging their rents.Tenants are now increasingly wondering whether the space they occupy is being used optimally and if there is a need to adjust space to the current circumstances. They need expert advice in this area. Logistics companies, in response to the huge interest in their services, have started looking for additional storage space and they are looking to employ many new drivers to deliver goods. Landlords have focused not only on cost optimisation, but above all on providing the companies that are using their buildings with the reassurance and peace of mind that the situation is being well managed and that it is safe for people to use the builidng. In order to properly respond to the market needs in such a dynamically changing environment, we had to demonstrate a flexible approach, adapting quickly and predicting events in a situation that has never happened before.” As of March 15, there have been many restrictions due to the coronavirus that have also impacted shopping centres. How big has this impact been on tenants and landlords in the short term? “We should wait a few more months before we can assess the condition of the retail sector. It was only a few weeks ago that
shopping centres returned to business, and even then it was not to the full extent. Recent weeks have been marked by negotiations and dialogue between tenants and landlords. There was, and still is, one goal and it all depends on the retail industry suffering as little loss as possible and regaining its normal rhythm as soon as possible. The entire sector must evaluate and adapt to the current situation. Tenants and landlords alike have been forced by the current circumstances to revise their development plans, and this will often require them to change their strategy.” And what is the impact on this sector in the mid and long-term? “In the first phase of 'defrosting' retail, property managers and landlords focused on the implementation of measures to ensure safe shopping so that people were able to return. At the same time, they started to observe and predict how customers will react to all this and in which direction shopping habits will go. Based on recent reports from retail-related institutions, we can see that the footfall in shopping malls is lower. In the first days after the easing of restrictions, depending on the location of a retail asset, its offer or market position, the figures fluctuated between 40% and 80% lower than previously. On the other hand, retail parks and outlet centres,
working on allowed us to verify many of our previous plans. Having tested on ourselves what challenges we face, we decided that we could share our experience with the market, as many companies will face similar challenges and decisions. For this reason, we created the First Aid Kit, which includes both infrastructure solutions as well as an active antimicrobial and an antivirus coating to cover office space surfaces, with temperature-measuring cameras, Collectomates to handle documents and parcels, as well as know-how solutions to help plan office work in terms of resources and real needs.
which consumers visit for a specific purpose, are less sensitive to this and have not recorded such large differences in the footfall level. The retail sector also has to take into account the fact that in the coming months consumers will be more cautious in their purchasing decisions and will focus more on the purchase of necessities. Moreover, they will be observing the economy and the labour market.” Will Covid-19 change the way we shop? “Coronavirus is changing the way that retail operates. These changes will be noticeable on many levels: brands and chains, developers, landlords, companies involved in entertainment, communications and new technologies. There have been many voices today saying that e-commerce will significantly increase its market share. Yes, e-tail has grown recently, but both channels are still complementary and need each other. Many retail chains believe that the Internet cannot replace the experience of people meeting brands through store visits. In the near future, we can expect even greater investments in the e-commerce platforms than we have already seen over the last three months. Brands will develop virtual and augmented reality technologies, and shops will be established where contact with people will be limited to the absolute minimum. However, the main priority of the industry will be to find the right tools that will allow customers to shop in a way they feel safe and comfortable, as it is all about their experience.”
Despite the extraordinary conditions and the need to reconcile several roles while working from home, this approach has been successful and, what is more, provided an opportunity to learn how to work more efficiently. We feel that many companies will start to approach this form of work more flexibly. There are voices on the market that many tenants will decide to reduce their office space precisely because of the more frequent use of home office opportunities, but there are also some who predict an increase in office space as greater distances between workstations may be required. There are certainly many good arguments for both points of view. However, the chosen direction will depend on the sector in which the company operates, as well as the nature of the organisation.”
Can you give a ballpark figure of the changes in the vacancy rate for the coming year and how this will influence the prices for office space? “The activity of the majority of businesses has been, or will be, slowed down by the pandemic, although it is also true that it has created an opportunity and growth for others. This will certainly affect the situation in the office market. But today it is definitely too early for any precise figures. Some of the specific responses include ongoing cost optimisation processes, a growing number of renegotiated contracts, suspended decisions on location changes and space expansions. Companies are watching the situation and waiting for it to develop.
What can you say about the office market? Covid-19 will totally change the way we work and, as a result, companies will look for rental savings. What changes do you expect in the office real estate market? “There are predictions that coronavirus will return again later this year, and we will have to learn not only to live with it but also to work with it. Many companies are deciding daily to return to their offices in a phased manner, observing implemented rules and precautions. One of the first steps we took within our company was to implement solutions guaranteeing safety and appropriate working conditions in our premises and therefore facilitating the return to the office. In addition, working remotely has made us revise our plans regarding the space layout of our new office. The fit-out concept we were
The signals from most developers looking to deliver office buildings over the coming two years indicate that there have been no delays caused by the coronavirus thus far and this is positive information. In the perspective of a year or two, we do not expect a significant increase in vacancies or decreases in rental rates. At the same
time, we will be looking with interest at older buildings, which, provided they are well-located and well-managed, may come back into the game and turn out to be an interesting alternative.” Will Covid-19 change the way we spend our money? “From the point of view of the private consumer, we expect a greater willingness to save and increased caution in making purchasing decisions, dictated by observation of the economy and the labour market situation. On the residential market, however, we see continuous and strong sales. It is likely that some purchasing choices, especially those concerning premium or high-priced goods, will be postponed until the situation is more stable and predictable and a wait-and-see approach will be adopted.”
strong position in the segment of BPO / SSC / ICT / R&D business support services. The pandemic has tested the efficiency of this sector in various regions around the world and it has shown that Poland is well prepared both in terms of technology and Internet infrastructure allowing business continuity from home. Businesses in Poland have managed this challenge perfectly, which will significantly strengthen our position on the global map of destinations for a wide range of service centres.
Besides the huge negative impact, where do you see new opportunities in your inustry? Do you expect many new coworking initiatives to be initiated? “From the point of view of real estate management, proptech solutions focused on the safety of tenants will become more important. Moreover, tools ensuring continuous communication with tenants will also play a major role. The operators of coworking spaces will have to think about how to ensure their spaces are safe to use. They will also have to take into account the fact that in the current situation smaller tenants may withdraw from cooperation for financial reasons, as many have done over the past few months. It is very likely that companies, while trying to figure out how to adapt to the future, may rent the spaces of serviced companies as they can give more flexibility than traditional landlords.” Do you see many differences in the changes resulting from Covid-19 in the regions around Poland compared to Warsaw? Are there any different trends? “Warsaw remains the largest office market and has stable economic foundations, so it will continue to attract more attention than the regional markets. The latter may, however, strengthen their already
The common problems faced by companies in Europe, resulting from the disruption to the supply chain of subassemblies, components or goods from factories that had been relocated to Asian countries, for example, may also change the outlook for the production, industrial and logistics markets. There are many voices in the EU that are calling for different production segments to be located closer to their markets. With its well-developed warehouse and logistics sector and good transport infrastructure integrated into the road system of the entire continent, Poland can only benefit from this. The coming years are likely to bring many new opportunities and solutions that have not been seen before.”
Messages from the Embassy We were just getting up to speed with our Economic Workplan for 2020 when COVID-19 reached Poland, forcing the government to take drastic measures. It turned out to be a major game changer, also for us. In this article, I will try to describe how the crisis has impacted our work as an Economic Department. As soon as the lockdown measures came into effect on 15 March, our first priority was to provide reliable information to Dutch companies, especially those which depend heavily on the free movement of goods and people. Confusion, rumours and chaos at the borders seriously complicated this task, but our team managed to put a set of Q&As together online and feed our ‘customers’ in the Netherlands with valuable information. The thousands of views reassured us that we were filling a need, and all sorts of questions started to come in. Not being the primary responsible authority (that’s what the Polish government is, after all), we answered them as best we could.
Since the Polish government has been releasing add-ons to their AntiCrisis Shield practically every week, we still spend quite a lot of time analysing and reporting on these measures. The fourth “line of business” to emerge in this crisis concerns the shortages of specific medical products in the Netherlands. Ministries and organisations in the Netherlands started approaching our team, inquiring about the production of scarce medical products in Poland. Haphazardly at first, but soon more efficiently through the “Landelijk Consortium Hulpmiddelen” (email@example.com, they are open to offers), requests were made reaching out to Polish producers of surgical gowns and face masks. In the other direction, Dutch entrepreneurs and traders based in Poland offered support and backchannels to organise the supply of medical products to the Netherlands. In this complicated, somewhat obscure process – in the words of some newspapers a “wild west” – we have taken on the role of intermediary, hoping to contribute to a golden match.
In the meantime, we teamed up with the NPCC and kicked off a series of webinars and online roundtables, ranging from practical “consulting hours” on HR issues to expert presentations on the Anti-Crisis Shield. The turnout was good, and it still is. If you are interested in participating, check our websites and this Bulletin. We will continue the series until demand dries up.
Last but not least, we are trying to look beyond the dark Coronavirus clouds to see what sectoral developments could be interesting for Dutch businesses in the future. Despite the current crisis, there are potentially interesting developments taking shape in key sectors for the Netherlands, such as water retention, innovative transport and renewable energy.
Apart from helping out Dutch companies, the embassy’s other core task is reporting on developments and policies in Poland. Our back offices in The Hague have coordinated among themselves and created a “runway” (a Sharepoint document, basically), where embassies can place any information on the crisis policies and measures in their region. Long live digitalisation! In this way, the time-consuming process, sometimes ending up in a competition between embassies, of writing long, often not very demand-driven, analyses was avoided.
All these challenges aside, and on a completely different level, the whole team has been working from home since mid-March. We have learnt new skills and become quite effective at meetings in the cloud. But let me finish this piece by emphasising, on behalf of the whole team, that we genuinely miss our interaction with you, our Dutch and Polish entrepreneurs. After all, it is the human touch that truly connects us, builds trust and moves us forward. By Sanne Kaasjager
Messages from the Embassy Workshops on Circular Business Models The Embassy, as part of its activities to raise awareness of the circular economy, invited two Dutch trainers from CIRCO in the Netherlands to give companies in Poland some guidelines on applying more circular business models. Bas Hillerström and Bas Roelofs were the trainers and they led two workshops on 10 and 11 March 2020.
electronics, FMCG and legal services taking part. The second workshop, meanwhile, was organised for representatives of the City of Warsaw and NGOs. The main objective of the workshops was to inspire and educate. We were happy to see that they activated players, facilitated networking and established value chain collaboration. More information is available on our website, including the CIRCO presentation (scan QR code).
The first workshop targeted companies, with participants from different backgrounds, such as architecture, film production, banking, waste/energy, consultancy, lighting, agriculture,
Circular Week 2020 One of the Economic Department’s main priorities is helping to introduce the circular economy in Poland by attracting Dutch companies and public organisations to share their know-how and become active on the Polish market.
Polish parties with an interest in advancing the circular economy. With appealing Dutch examples from both the private and public sectors, we aim to demonstrate that circularity is not only a must, but it can also be a profitable business. We therefore invite all Dutch (or “Dutch-flavoured”) companies in Poland to participate, share their success stories, learn and be inspired, meet soulmates and potential business partners. We will keep you informed about the programme, so please check our website and LinkedIn page.
The success of Circular Economy Week 2019 proved that it has become an excellent platform for reaching out to
Economic Department on LinkedIn In May, the Economic Department of the Embassy launched its company page on LinkedIn. We hope the page will help us to publicise relevant information, keep our followers updated about our activities and provide new
leads to our professional network. Please take a minute to check it out and follow us! www.linkedin.com/company/nlinpoland/
Polish Floristry Market - online report on our website! Poland is the 5th biggest importer of Dutch cut flowers and ornamental plants. However, there is a lack of data about the floristry market in Poland and for
that reason the Embassy conducted an online survey among Polish florists. Based on their answers, we have prepared an extensive report about the Polish flower market seen from their point of view. The whole report is free to download from www.agroberichtenbuitenland.nl/polen
Autumn agenda The Coronavirus crisis has seriously impacted our programme of activities (see the related article in this edition of the Bulletin) but we do hope to co-organise some events after the summer break:
1-3 September 2020 - Rail Freight Summit in Poznań 12-18 October 2020 – Circular Week in Poland including: ‣ 15 October 2020 – “Circular Business Day” at the Embassy ‣ 16 October 2020 – Mazovian Circular Congress in Warsaw Date to be determined - Offshore Wind Energy Mission to Poland
What are we fighting for? Photo: @Marta Kochanek
As I write this column, life in lockdown is in full swing: working from home, wearing face masks on our daily walks, concerns about our health, autonomy, shopping, family and friends, lessons for our children. So many questions arise: will my job, my company, my organisation and my clients, my public, my workers, my sponsors, or more generally, my source of income, survive this crisis? A diverse range of economic sectors are being hit tremendously hard by the lockdown and the sideeffects of the pandemic, and all of us are being affected personally and/or professionally. “We will overcome! One way or another. But.. the world will not be the same anymore!” We have heard this many times recently, and we have probably even said it to ourselves and others as a mantra for our psyche to keep our spirits up and remain upbeat. In the meantime, we distract ourselves from our worries with books, music, social media, films, games and other forms of cultural expression from the days when we had (or maybe still have) to stay at home. Our creative skills have become very useful during our #stayathome period. Out-of-the box thinking has helped us to find solutions not only in our private life, but also in our professional life. The importance and added value of the creative sector, the arts and the entertainment sector for our quality of life has once again become very clear. Not only to distract and entertain us, but also as a tool to develop our creative skills, to stimulate our imagination, provide inspiration and maintain an open mind ready for the necessary adjustments. Culture and the arts is not a hobby for the privileged few in a civilized world! It is an important ingredient for the functioning of a society. The Greek and Romans already knew this over 2000 years ago. There’s no further explanation needed about how festivals, theatres, private galleries, creative centres and cultural events, artists, technical staff, event organisers and suppliers are being affected by the lockdown and the 1.5-metre economy. We hear voices proclaiming that the cultural sector and the arts flourish in times of crisis. But these voices probably believe that the cultural sector does not eat or have to pay rent, that artists don’t have to feed their children and they can live all by themselves in abandoned studios without heating. Does a cultural crisis still await us? With restricted possibilities to go to the theatre, exhibitions or concerts? And unable to attend festivals as they simply are not there anymore in the same number or variety as before? “The world will not be the same anymore.” Maybe we will (re-)realise the importance of a well-developed, fully-fledged and widely available diverse cultural sector.
When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he simply replied, “Then what are we fighting for?” I’m not in the mood to write about the added value of international cultural exchange at this moment. The performances by the Netherlands Dance Theatre and Kensington have been cancelled, while film and theatre festivals have been postponed indefinitely. Conferences have had to be reorganised and lots of dreams and plans have had to be shelved. But we will survive and save the cultural sector. Won’t we? Martin van Dijk Cultural attaché
New members of
the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
Koppert Polska Sp. z o.o.
Monika Łukasiewicz, MD, PHD
Koppert works to improve the health of people and the planet by acting in partnership with nature to make agriculture healthier, safer and more productive.
A specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, sexual medicine, endocrinology and reproductive medicine, Monika is also a Fellow of the European Committee on Sexual Medicine (FECSM).
We provide an integrated system of specialist knowledge and natural safe solutions that improves crop health, resilience and production.
She works at the Dębski Clinic and the Novum Fertility Clinic in Warsaw, Poland, and is a pioneer in assisted reproductive medicine, focusing on infertility treatment, aging medicine, menopause management, assisted reproduction, and the reproductive and sexual health of women and men.
Koppert produces sustainable cultivation solutions for food crops and ornamental plants. We achieve this by using natural enemies to combat pest infestations, bumblebees for natural pollination, and bio stimulants that support and strengthen the crops both above ground and underground. Restoring and protecting vital ecosystems in a natural way is the basis for healthy crops and a balanced environment. We believe firmly in the power of nature. Working with nature requires a holistic approach which makes the cultivation of food crops environmentally friendly and free from chemical residue. Koppert Polska Sp. z o.o. Polna 7, 62-070 Dąbrówka www.koppert.pl
She is the author of numerous articles and books on female health, and is an international public speaker. Interested in endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their influence on male gonads, and also the placebo effect on human health and business, she has practised and worked in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. A member of ESHRE, ESSM, ISSM and PTG, she does everything with passion, compassion and high performance motivation, both in her professional and personal life. She enjoys reading, artistic photography, ballet and travelling all over the world, always with very little luggage. Monika Łukasiewicz, MD, PHD Gwiaździsta 15A/141, 01-651 Warsaw +48 604 269 969 firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal Brinkman has a team of experienced and enthusiastic employees with a high level of professional knowledge. We stand out for our customer care, knowledge of our clients’ needs and the production processes used, which allows us to build deep, long-term cooperation based on trust and partnership.
Royal Brinkman Polska Sp. z o.o. Royal Brinkman is one of the largest and most renowned suppliers for the horticultural industry in the world.
The key values guiding our activities are: business confidence – ease – product/service availability – professional knowledge – supply guarantee. These five values underpin Royal Brinkman’s services to its clients.
We supply high-quality products, systems and services in the fields of crop rotation, crop care, crop protection & disinfection, packaging & design, mechanisation, technical projects and other service products.
Royal Brinkman Polska Sp. z o.o. Ostrowska 452, 61-324 Poznań +48 618 726 151 www.royalbrinkman.pl
New members of
the Netherlands-Polish Chamber of Commerce
Blue Fifty Polska Sp. z o.o. The name of the company refers to the idea that guides our whole activity. By 2050, Blue Fifty wants to create a circular economy that will allow for the rational use of resources and reduce the negative impact of its activities on people and the environment. Specialising in applying innovative technologies in environmental engineering and human safety, the company provides proven Dutch solutions in these areas to the Polish market. It focuses on meeting the needs of its local clients with innovative engineering solutions and putting these unique concepts into practice. Blue Fifty currently represents the following companies on the Polish market: • Holland Water B.V. – offering Bifipro technology, which removes Legionella bacteria from water installations to protect human health and life. • Care4Agro B.V. – offering modern scanners for soil analysis that help to manage soil fertility and improve crop growth. • Innovative Water Concepts B.V. (IWC) – offering Undine technology, which further improves product quality by cleaning more efficiently and saving >70% of water used.
Crido Business & Innovation Consulting Sp. z o.o. We provide tax, legal and transactional assistance as well as business consultancy to entrepreneurs. We help companies advance their innovation business by, among other things, obtaining financing from public funds and other available sources. The dedication and work of our seasoned team of over 250 professionals has received much appreciation from both our longstanding clients and also independent bodies. This is reflected in the rankings of tax advisors and firms supporting innovation and R+D, where we earn top recognition. Crido Business & Innovation Consulting Sp. z o.o. Grzybowska 5A, 00-132 Warsaw +48 22 324 59 00 www.crido.pl
Blue Fifty is also a shareholder in AgroFreshPark Sp. z o.o., which develops sustainable (residual heat or geothermal energy-powered) greenhouses to ensure safe food production while reducing carbon emissions. All our activities are aimed at benefiting people and the environment. Blue Fifty Polska Sp. z o.o. Lubasiewicza 10, 31-329 Kraków +31 615 367 712 www.blue-fifty.pl
Marc Goudemont Resultancy Marc Goudemont Resultancy takes responsibility together with the client for the result of each assignment. Implementation follows on from advice; sometimes in a company, sometimes in a project, and sometimes by starting a company yourself.
The Barrett Group Over the past 30 years, The Barrett Group has helped more than 5,000 executives to change position, clarify their professional goals and, most importantly, achieve those goals, with a success rate of over 90%. The Barrett Group Europe is responsible for Europe, Middle East and Africa and has offices located in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Warsaw in Poland.
I operate with a clear vision. Everything you do must contribute to changes that ultimately benefit the business, the environment, society and people. I have a wealth of experience in commerce, marketing and finance, gained in such industries as consultancy, food and beverages, luxury goods, and internet/IT services. Marc Goudemont Resultancy Piękna 18, 00-549 Warsaw email@example.com
FLEX LEASE – a response to the changing market
The whole market is currently facing difficult and unexpected circumstances.
We can offer you a solution that will enable your vehicle resources to be adjusted to the possibilities and needs of your business.
The world held its breath and froze in fear for a while. But now the dust is slowly settling, the situation is normalising and we need to find out where we stand in this new reality.
Flex Lease is a programme based on new and used vehicles, fully tested, insured and with comprehensive maintenance support.
What is going to happen next? How will individual sectors respond to this time of pandemic and the period immediately after it? There are many scenarios, and unfortunately most of them are pessimistic ones. We all already know that the world will no longer look the same again. However, we must continue to make the right business decisions and quickly analyse situations in order to help our employees, suppliers and partners, and ultimately the entire economy. We must begin to create a new reality together so we can respond to market needs. Hitachi Capital Polska, being well-aware of the situation where some companies are experiencing a period of prosperity while others are suffering temporary downtime, is implementing a new solution – Flex Lease. This is a supplementary solution to your existing car fleet needs, or an alternative to rental without long-term commitments. If you have more orders but you lack cars, or you don’t want to enter into a long-term contract, this proposal is just for you! Hitachi Capital Polska offers a wide range of vehicles.
We can offer you flexibility with attractive terms today: • You get a prompt price quotation so you can hit the road quickly • You get access to a pool of well-equipped vehicles • You get insurance and a comprehensive service package with your car • You don’t need to make a long-time commitment, it is just for 12 months • You can return your car earlier without any additional costs • You can easily extend your rental or order new cars Flex Lease is our response to the changing times, and a great solution for your business.
Contact us to find out more! Hitachi Capital Polska Sp. z o.o. Franciszka Klimczaka 1 02-797 Warsaw www.hitachicapital.pl
Column Remco van der Kroft Advocaat (Dutch licensed lawyer) and partner of Olczak-Klimek Van der Kroft Węgiełek
A hand washes a hand When Marc Rutte was shaking hands recently at a press conference with the expert who had just told everybody not to shake hands anymore, Poland was already in full lockdown. Most of my regular readers may be surprised but I believe praise for the Polish government is in order. Knowing full well that the Polish health system would not have been able to cope, and with the presidential election in May, the government could not afford to make mistakes, like the UK has done, and to some extent the Netherlands. Now it’s mid-May, and it seems legitimate to ask the question whether the decision to go into lockdown was motivated by genuine concern for people’s health or if it was simply due to the election. Whereas in other countries the news was almost fully taken over by the pandemic, and governments were, and still are, focused on coming up with measures to save the economy, Polish politicians soon started to focus on the election instead. They rented the largest airplane in the world to transport half a load of what we now know were non-certified face masks. It did give Morawiecki a good photo opportunity, though. The upcoming presidential election soon became the main concern of the average big city dweller in Poland and not the Covid-19 epidemic. On 12 March, the government closed universities, schools, restaurants and sports facilities, and generally told people to stay at home, although still saying that it will be all over by 10 May, just in time for the election. For that very reason, they also kept those students who are in their last year at high school and have to take their finals (matura) living in uncertainty until 24 April, since if you can have elections, you can also have the matura. When it was finally announced that the matura would probably be postponed until June (everything is still up in the air), idea after idea appeared designed to make sure that Mr. Duda would remain president. One proposal was to temporarily change the constitution so that he could stay on another two years, but the idea that almost made it all the way was the one about making it a postal vote on 10 May. My Dutch readers who still vote in the Dutch national elections will know the drill: you get an envelope which contains two other envelopes,
a declaration and a ballot form. You complete the ballot form and put it in the unmarked envelope (1), which you seal. Then you complete the declaration, sign it and make a copy of your passport or ID, all of which goes into the pre-addressed envelope (2). When that envelope arrives in The Hague, someone will open envelope 2, check your declaration, check your ID, tick you off the list of voters registered abroad, and then they will put envelope 1 (unopened I assume) into a box together with all the other unopened envelopes from other Dutch voters. Finally, all the unmarked envelopes will be opened and the votes counted. Never in my more than 20 years abroad have I questioned that procedure, apart from the fact that I don’t like having to vote in advance rather than on election day. In Poland, though, I instinctively started questioning every step of this process, as did all PiS politicians a few years ago when PO wanted to introduce postal voting as an addition to normal ballot boxes. How easy (and convenient) would it be to lose all the ballot forms from Wilanów (80% anti-PiS), or to keep a record of who voted for whom? In addition, everybody knows that the Polish Postal Service is already unable to handle its day-today work, let alone a postal vote as well. It would also have deprived Polish citizens abroad of their voting rights (since there was no time to include them), while the opposition candidates even had no chance to campaign due to the lockdown. While the law on postal voting was still being debated in the Senate, someone was already printing out the ballot forms, which it turns out nobody had told them to do. Three days before the election, people still didn’t know whether it would take place or not, until Jarosław & Jarosław (both rank-and-file members of parliament) gave a press conference stating that there would be no election and predicting that the Supreme Court would subsequently decide to invalidate the election that did not take place (after all, with his people in the Supreme Court one Jarosław thought that he could simply tell the Supreme Court how to rule, just like with the Constitutional Tribunal). Surprisingly, though, the PiS-appointed head of the (probably illegally created) Extraordinary Appeal and Public Affairs Chamber of the Supreme Court suddenly said that she was an independent judge. How could a court even decide that an election was invalid if there were no election? It would be like Mr. Kaczynski asking to divorce the wife he never had. Luckily, the State Electoral Commission did not bear a grudge about the fact that it did not get to approve the ballot forms before they were printed and it came to the rescue, deciding that a new election has to be called. Just nobody knows when. Could this whole mess have been avoided? Yes, the Polish Constitution contains a procedure for this. The government could have declared a so-called “state of natural disaster”, which, by the way, would have given a legal basis for all the restrictions of the lockdown (yes, it is very likely that all these restrictions were unconstitutional) and would have postponed the election until 90 days after the end of the state of natural disaster, at the same time extending any terms of office of elected officials. The problem is, of course, that by then Mr. Duda may not be so popular anymore due to a possible economic decline. Now, before you think that you will be able to claim damages because you were told to close your restaurant in an unconstitutional way, just remember that the President of the Constitutional Court has never claimed to be independent.
This column is written à titre personnel and does not necessarily reflect the views of the NPCC board or its members.