GEO FOCUS: POLAND
POLES APART Poland’s place in the European pro-audio puzzle appears to be a microcosm for the puzzle itself; Matt Fellows examines divided professional opinions to get the full picture.
hough it suffers from a few uniform issues, the European pro-audio market is currently a mottled landscape with each country facing its own obstacles. Poland is no exception; it would appear that its position in the pro-audio industry is a complicated one, and also tied very closely to its position in the European Union. This is certainly true for Leszek Polanowski, founder and owner of distributor PolAudio, who finds the outlook to be promising: “We found our national pro-audio market to be rather stable and slowly growing,” he explains. “Since Poland joined the European Union, there are no barriers for Polish entrepreneurs to purchase products and components as well as engineering solutions and know-how from other more developed European countries. “The lower quality products market is still strong due to extremely low prices offered in the majority by Chinese manufacturers. Nonetheless, we noticed that more often both manufacturers and users are looking for best solutions – or products – that will meet not only their needs, but also global standards.” But things aren’t so straightforward. The contentious state of Poland is evidenced by the words of Lukasz Gorycki, owner of audio system designer Gorycki & Sznyterman, who puts it bluntly: “The market is far from healthy. The whole audio distribution [market] was set in the early 1990s and hasn’t really changed much. We have had the
same distributors, with minor changes, over the past 20 years. Technology demands rapid changes and now in 2015 we are entering a new phase, where money from the EU is being distributed according to different patterns. This imposes solutions which bring more benefits to the venue owners and the public. Today, we can create technology which creatively serves communities and brings a lot of learning and teaching possibilities.” Polanowski further exalts the virtues of the EU for those in the proaudio market, but acknowledges that membership is not a straightforwardly beneficial affair; the potentially doubleedged sword comes with pitfalls that threaten to manifest a situation more in line with Gorycki’s estimations. “Being a part of the Union gives producers and customers a chance to use additional funds coming from EU subsidies,” he explains. “Therefore EU grants are effective economic instruments to provide high-quality proaudio products to the market. “On the other hand, we noticed that those additional grants, and also some other factors, run the risk of dumping prices on the rental pro-audio market. Some newly created companies, using subsidies, offer dramatically lower prices. As a result there is a number of rental companies with many years of experience suffering from that kind of dangerous competition and that makes the rental part of pro-audio market quite unhealthy’.”
Population: 38 million
However, focusing on the more positive points of the market, Polanowski attributes his promising predictions to a shift in consumer focus within the manufacturing and distribution sector: “Customers started to pay more attention to aesthetic aspects of speaker cabinets – modern coating like good quality texture paint, polyurea; modern streamlining shapes – as well as practical aspects. They choose smaller products with lower weight, which offer very efficient performance. Neodymium speakers are getting more popular, although their prices are still pretty high in comparison with ceramic speakers.”
New focus Gorycki agrees that customer focus has indeed changed rather than the sectors themselves, but this has presented his company with all new challenges. “The audio distribution market hasn’t changed much; the overall public demands have changed, which is a difficult situation to find oneself in. Our company always tries to introduce a full technology spectrum, ranging from interior acoustics to full interior designs with built-in technology. Depending on the project, we choose the most suitable options for our clients. Almost all of our projects have different brands in them. Our competitors sell single, strong brands with the most attention to sales, not profit.” When asked how Poland compares to the wider global market, Polanowski
How would you say the Polish pro-audio market is currently faring?
”It is small but tight.” ”It offers the highest quality work, using the same tools as all pros around the world. It’s built by people developing their skills on Polish projects which are more and more challenging and also working on international projects. And what is important on international projects, prices in Poland are lower than in the rest of EU, which is important for producers.”
July / August 2015
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