Promotion of Poland
as an atractive and buisness-friendly
country with a huge investment potential
furniture sector, window and door
joinery, building industry
2012 – let’s be the hoss
The project “Promotion of the Polish economy on international markets”
co-financed by European Regional Development Fund
Subaction 6.5.1 Innovative Economy – National Cohesion Strategy 2007-2013
Promotion of Poland
as an atractive and business-friendly
country with a huge investment potential
FURNITURE SECTOR, WINDOW AND DOOR
JOINERY, BUILDING INDUSTRY
Wydawca / Publisher:
Fundacja Instytut Studiów Wschodnich
ul. Solec 85
Skład i druk / Print:
ul. Kościuszki 28
33-300 Nowy Sącz
tel/fax +48 18 444 22 13
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Already for over 20 years the Economic Forum in Krynica has been a place where experts from
the economic sector, entrepreneurs and politicians meet. Each year the interest in it has increased,
thanks to which, it has become a fixed date in the international agenda of economic events.
This year’s Forum’s edition is exceptionally important because of the Polish presidency in the EU
Council. During our presidency we want to show that the Eastern Partnership may play an important
role in building a strong economic Europe. The Forum in Krynica is the best place to remember
that we need cooperation between EU member states and our Eastern Partners. Its development
is necessary for the European Union to be able to compete effectively on the global market and
strengthen its economy. During its presidency Poland strives, among others, to intensify negotiations
regarding a deepened free trade agreement between EU and Ukraine and supports the process of
making Russia a part of WTO.
These issues fit perfectly well into the subject of this year’s Forum. Under the motto “European
dilemmas: partnership or rivalry?” we will be discussing common economic policy, which should
also focus on developing trade relations with our Eastern neighbors. I am convinced that the 21 st
Economic Forum in Krynica Zdrój will be a good opportunity to exchange ideas, experience and
contribute to the realization of all the planned ventures.
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy
Poland is a great place In which to invest and develop business. In the Ernst &Young European
Attractiveness Survey 2010 report Poland was chosen by managers from international companies as
the most frequently considered location for new foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe.
The Polish market, with 38 million potential customers, is one of the largest in the European Union.
A convenient location in the centre of Europe and at the crossroads of its main communication
routes makes it possible to export goods from Poland to all European countries and to reach over
half a billion consumers. Poland’s main trade partners include Germany, Russia, China, France, Great
Britain, Italy, Hungary, Ukraine and Spain.
Well-educated Polish economists, engineers, IT specialists and scientists are appreciated and
sought-after employees of IT companies, research and development centres and scientific institutes.
The Polish economy has solid foundations for stable development. Global economic crisis has left
Poland unscathed and Poland is the only country in Europe that did not experience recession (in fact
it was developing at the fastest pace on the continent).
Export and internal demand are not falling, either. The latest Eurostat data show that growth of
retail sales in Poland was the highest in the European Union when compared with last year.
Global concerns are happy to choose Poland as a location for new investment in Europe. The
FDI value in Poland in 2009 amounted to Euro 9.95 billion and preliminary data for the year 2010
suggests a figure of Euro 5.34 billion.
Poland offers incentives to foreign companies. One of many possibilities is the location of
investment in a Special Economic Zone, of which there are 14 in Poland. Special Economic Zones
offer new investors attractive tax relief, facilitated employment processes and well-prepared areas
A considerable potential customer market
Poland is one of the largest European Union member states. It is the sixth largest potential
customer market in the EU and is the largest market in Central and Eastern Europe. It is much bigger,
more absorbing and diversified than in other countries in the region. Here, in the centre of Europe,
you can develop your company’s operations and export goods easily to the large Eastern market.
Despite the unfavorable situation of the global financial markets, economic growth in Poland in
2009 was the highest on the continent and amounted to 1.7 per cent, whereas in the third quarter
of 2010 it was the highest among all EU member states – 4.7 per cent (seasonally adjusted). This is
based, to a large extent, on internal demand.
By investing in Poland, a country with a great geographical location and a large, absorbing
internal market, foreign companies find new prospects for development. From our country, thanks to
developed communication routes and the proximity of both Western and Eastern European markets,
investors can develop their export operations and reach new recipients.
EU structural funds
Investors present on the Polish market can hope not only for great conditions for investing but also
for direct help. Besides tax incentives passed by councils of communities and different forms of aid,
for instance, in Special Economic Zones, they can also count on structural funds. In the years 2007-
2015 Poland will receive over Euro 67 billion from the European Union budget for improvements to
the competitiveness of its economy.
EU aid will be available for projects in almost all sectors of economy and in the 2007-2015 period
Poland will be the largest beneficiary of European EU funds. To plan their distribution and usage
effective Operational Programs, Regional Operational Programs and Programs of European Territorial
Cooperation (Interreg IV) have been created.
POLISH FURNITURE INDUSTRY
– the sector of the 21 st century
Over the last two decades the Polish furniture industry has become one of the most important
industries in the world. Furniture export since 1989 has grown 47-fold and Poland has been
outperformed only by China over this period. This success was possible thanks to the Polish tradition
of running small, family enterprises the products of which are characterised by high quality and
extraordinary design that wins the acclaim and trust of customers in Poland and abroad. Over 20,000
companies are operating in the furniture industry, 90% of which are small enterprises employing
up to 9 people. At present the furniture industry holds first place in the rankings of the Ministry of
Economy assigning subsidies to companies under the Innovative Economy Operational Program.
Factors facilitating development of the furniture industry in Poland include our country’s natural
predispositions, spacial concentration of enterprises and the tendency to establish business clusters,
low labour costs, freshness of the market, and its dynamic ability to adaptat to existing demand.
Causes of the Polish furniture industry’s success
Furniture industry clusters are located in different parts of the country, which has to do with
natural and historical predispositions. The Wielkopolskie, Mazowieckie and Małopolskie voivodships
are leaders in Poland in terms of furniture manufacturing.
Source: Polish furniture Outlook 2011
Poland belongs to the group of countries characterised by the largest share of forested areas,
covering 30% of the country’s territory. Enterprises located close to the natural resources they use
take advantage of their favourable location. Natural predispositions are an advantage of the country
as a manufacturer of wood products, and combined with professional craftsmanship this translates
directly into production volume.
Spacial accumulation of enterprises and creating business clusters (for instance Wielkopolski
Furniture cluster) allows the internalisation of production costs and increases absorption of
innovation and openness for investment. Accumulation and effective use of its advantages make
small furniture companies competitive in both Polish and foreign markets. The Wielkopolski
Furniture Cluster includes both enterprises employing more than 300 employees and those which
employ merely a few people. Enterprises belonging to the Cluster are also beneficiaries of European
funds and foreign direct investment and they take advantage of the results of work done in scientific
centres set up particularly for the sake of the furniture industry (as computer software for furniture
production steering and management).
The high level of Polish education and popularity of economic and engineering studies combined
with high the standards of craftsmanship create great conditions for the sector’s development. The
furniture market in Poland is characterised by absorption and openness. The furniture industry owes
its success both to intense exporting and demand from the internal market generated by the boom
in the building sector. The fundamental element determining the furniture industry’s development is
demand. This is connected with how active the building sector is, a qualitatively limited substitution
of wooden furniture, a large demand from foreign markets and psychological factors (lifestyle,
Value of sold production [biblion PLN]
Source: Polish furniture Outlook 2011
Sale growth dynamics decreased slightly in 2008 due to the global economic crisis. However,
in connection with the increased demand for furniture products in 2012 forecast by analysts,
companies are investing heavily. In August 2011 the Swedspan Group belonging to one of the sector
leaders – Ikea, completed a production facility in Podlasie region worth Euro 140 million; another
Swedish concern – AJ Produkter, is getting ready for investment in the Słupska Special Economic
Zone. It is going to build production facilities covering an area of 11,000 square meters, whereas in
Chodzież, Europol Meble Polska is going to build a production plant for upholstered furniture in the
Kostrzyńsko-Słubicka Special Economic Zone. Sale trends on the furniture market are illustrated by
the graph where we can see growing demand for furniture in 2011 as compared with 2010.
Furniture production in the 1st half of 2011 and the 1st half 2010
Polish furniture in lounges worldwide
Development of the furniture sector over the years was, primarily, due to dynamic exports. Polish
furniture is appreciated abroad, principally, because of its high quality and very competitive prices.
Since 1989 foreign sales have increased by 4,700%, and, in just the last five years, have risen by
approximately 25%. Currently, Poland occupies 4 th place in furniture export and 10 th place in furniture
Furniture export in Poland in PLN milion
In 2009 the export of Polish furniture was limited by about 15% but exchange rate differences
meant that this result did not affect exporters so greatly whereas Germany, Italy or China have had to
cut their exports by 20 to 30 per cent in recent years. Poland is the third-largest exporter of furniture
in the European Union. About 90% of Polish furniture is exported to markets in EU member states. In
2010 the value of Polish furniture exports exceeded Euro 5 billion. Besides EU member states larger
recipients (including the United States) account for 6% of our furniture export.
Recently, China has been considered an attractive output market due to its dynamically developing
economy resulting in the ever-greater wealth of the society. The potential of the Chinese furniture
market created by 350 million households is growing fast. Demand for import of luxury consumer
goods is increasing every year, which is a very favourable situation for starting exports to this market.
The biggest ones invest in Poland
Foreign investment is an important opportunity for Polish furniture sector development. According
to the Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency the largest investment project finalised in
2010 was the Ikea furniture plant in Podlasie. The company is going to produce up to 250,000 cubic
metres of light, low-emission products for the furniture industry. Production of ultra light HDF Green-
Light panels based on a new technological process guarantees better product characteristics, lower
weights and cost reduction. It is the most modern plant of this kind in Europe worth Euro 140 million
(PLN 627.2 million), PLN 145.7 million out of which comes from the EU Innovative Economy Program.
According to Prime Minister Donald Tusk Podlasie is an attractive region for investors – both national
and foreign – and the Ikea brand is a great promotion for Podlasie and for the whole Poland.
Another huge investment in the furniture sector is the building of a new Wilrobi plant in Łomża, the
cost of which is estimated at PLN 10 million. The plant covering over 3,200 square meters will produce
children’s furniture from MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) boards, chipboards and solid wood. The
investment will be subsidised with PLN 7.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund.
Another large investment in the furniture sector is planned in Pomerania. At the end of the year
in the Słupska Special Economic Zone in Redzikowo a furniture plant of the Swedish AJ Produkter
company is planned to be completed. The Swedish AJ Produkter concern manufactures office
furniture, conference centre, and warehouse equipment. It operates in 22 countries, mostly in
Northern Europe and Singapore.
Larger Polish furniture sector manufacturers include Ikea, Bodzio, Black Red White, Fameg, Atlas,
and Nowy Styl. They are characterised, in the first place, by the scope of their distribution network,
outlay on advertising, and production volume.
IKEA furniture has been sold in Poland since 1991, when the shop in Poznań was opened. At
present, Poland is the second largest supplier of IKEA products worldwide and production of IKEA
furniture in Poland takes place in IKEA’s own 14 production plants and at approximately 60 suppliers.
Over 40,000 people are employed by the network.
The founder of the Swedish furniture concern Ikea – Ingvar Kamprad – claims that he owes his
success to Poland. In one of interviews he admits “I think that Poles have the unique ability of working
with their head and heart at the same time. They have natural human feelings at the same time,
which is a great advantage in the contemporary world.”
Black Red White, currently employing about 13,000 people, started its operations in a small
Chmielek village close to Biłgoraj, from where its founder and owner Tadeusz Chmiel delivered
furniture to customers and assembled the products made in a plant next to his home. At present, the
Black Red White Group is one of the largest Polish furniture groups, and a producer and distributor of
furniture and interior design products with an approximately 20% market share.
Another prominent furniture company on the Polish market is Grupa Nowy Styl. It sells its product
range through four product brands catering to different groups of customers and market sectors. The
Group has over 3,500 distributors in Poland and worldwide. Over 60% of its production is exported to
nearly 60 countries ad the world.
Building carpentry is now one of the most competitive and innovative sectors of the Polish
economy with the best prospects for the future. Polish building carpentry companies focus mostly
on quality, attractive prices and close adjustment to customers’ needs.
There are over 2,000 companies in the country specialising in window and door manufacturing.
This group includes a few dozen large and a few hundred middle sized enterprises which are wellknown
and cherish renown in Poland and Europe, and over one thousand small companies which
play an immensely important role in local markets. The window and door carpentry sector is an
industry with traditions, which…
In the years 2003-2010 Polish companies, using EU subsidies, managed to modernise their
machinery parks and production lines. They often use components manufactured by the most
renowned suppliers on the market such as Guardian, AGC, Pilkington, and Saint-Gobain. According
to the estimates of the Association of Polish Window and Door Producers, Suppliers and Distributors
the revenues from window sales of all the companies manufacturing such products in Poland
amounted to about PLN 7.5 billion in 2009.
The structure of milwork market
Expansion into foreign markets
In the last few years Poland has joined the group of the largest producers in Europe and has
become a leader in terms of the export volume of wooden and PVC windows and doors.
Growth of sales was achieved, to a large extent, thanks to expansion onto foreign markets – in
2004 Polish enterprises exported 13% of their production whereas in 2008 every fourth window
and every fifth door was sold abroad. After Poland joined the European Union the share of exported
products of total production increased by almost three times, exceeding 3 million items in 2007.
Windows produced by Polish enterprises are exported to over 70 countries worldwide and 95%
of export is sold in the European Union. The year 2010 was particularly successful for exporters of
PVC windows. Last year altogether 3.7 million windows were exported, 2.6 million of which were
PVC windows. The largest recipients of PVC windows are Germany (windows form Poland accounted
for about 25% of Germany’s imports and, despite its share of the whole German market, does not
exceed 5%, which proves still large reserves for Polish business operations), the Czech Republic and
Slovakia. On the other hand wooden windows are exported mostly to Denmark, Great Britain and
The largest market players
Polish companies operating in the window carpentry sector are well known and appreciated
worldwide. The largest ones: Fakro, Oknoplast - Kraków, Sokółka Okna i Drzwi, Witraż and Drutex,
conduct investment activities on a large scale and take care of their image – they want to be perceived
as innovative, development-driven, environmentally friendly and as attractive employers.
One of the largest window producers in Poland is the Fakro company, which started its business
operations in the town of Nowy Sącz in 1991, from where, in 1994, it exported the first roof windows
abroad. At present, Fakro has about 15% of shares in the global market of roof windows and it
employs over 3,000 people. Fakro is one of the most innovative national enterprises for which it was
awarded with prizes by the President of the Republic of Poland including the Economic Award of the
President of the Republic of Poland given to the comapny twice - in 2003 for “particular committment
to building prestige of the Polish economy in EU markets” and in 2011 for “presence on the global
The founder and the current president Ryszard Florek talks about plans for the future: “To increase
our share in foreign markets and to decrease distribution costs we are going to expand our product
range by including, in the first line, ecological products, manufctured using renewable energy
sources. We are also systematically increasing our production capabilities. The total area of new
production facilities which we are going to build will total almost 15,000 square metres.
Another leading window manufactuer in Poland is the Oknoplast company from Kraków, which
has been providing its services for 17 years. The company employs more than 720 people and its
headquarters are located in Ochmanów, close to Kraków, with production facilities encompassing
29,000 square metres, office buildings, and numerous storage and warehouse yards using the stateof-the-art
equipment of global leaders.
The Sokółka Okna i Drzwi enterprise is a company with a dozens of years of tradition – it has been
in the manufacturing business since the beginning of the 1970s. It is characterised not only by its
long experience but, primarily, by its ability to use state-of-the-art technological solutions and a
modern management system. Since autumn 2006 Sokółka Okna i Drzwi has been a part of Inwido
AB, a Swedish intenrational concern. Annual turnover of the Inwido concern exceeds Euro 500 million
and its main markets are Scandinavian countries and Japan. By buying Sokółka the Swedish company
entered the Polish market and furthermore, through Sokółka exporting its products mostly to Great
Britain, it was presented with the opportunity of entering that very difficult market. Alongside this,
the acquistion meant that the Polish company could enter the Japanese market.
Drutex was set up in 1985 and, originally, it operated only in the metals sector. Currently, it is
the largest producer of hole PVC carpentry in Poland and it exports its products to most European
countries, to the United States and Mexico. A year ago the company recorded sale revenues of almost
PLN 150 million from export only. In May, in a competition organised by Business Centre Club, the
company received the title of the Polish Economy Ambassador in the “European Brand” category as
a company promoting Polish brands on international markets. The company employs approximately
1,500 people and its potential allows production of over 4,000 windows a day.
Prospects for development
An opportunity for Polish windows producers is the governmental programs of Western European
countries designed to support residential housing and subsidies for thermal modernisation. It is
an opportunity both for companies offering economic windows and energy-saving windows. The
largest potential for Polish window exports lies in programs supporting energy-saving buildings,
which EU member states are obliged to perform by the EU EPBD directive. Thanks to investment
outlays in technologies are well prepared to compete in this market. Many Polish manufacturers
have internatioanl certificates confirming the high energy-saving characteristics of their products.
Thanks to modern production lines using the best components and still-lower labour costs,
manufactuers from Poland can offer top-quality windows at reasonable prices. Judging by the Polish
export dynamics Polish window manufactuers cherish a renowned place in the European markets.
Polish window manufactuers have already proven that they can achieve success on an international
scale. The Fakro company from the town of Nowy Sącz has enjoyed spectacular succcess. It is now
the second-largest roof window manufactuer worldwide in terms of global market share. Other
companies, not only the largest ones, are also doing well on foreign markets.
The Economic Forum in Krynica
The Economic Forum in Krynica-Zdroj has been organized every year in the beginning of September
since the early nineties. Its mission is to build a favourable climate for the development of political
and economic cooperation among the countries of the European Union and their neighbours. Over
20 years of its activity, the Forum has become a platform for exchange of opinions, experience, an
important place for preparing plans for the future by politicians and business people from more than
60 countries of Europe, Asia, Northern and Central America.
The Forum includes 5 plenary sessions and more than 120 discussion panels organized within the
scope of a few thematic blocks, such as: Macroeconomics, Business and management, Fuels and energy,
Investment, privatisation, economic development, Innovations and sustainable development. Plenary
sessions, discussion panels and dozens of press conferences, exhibitions and special presentations have
become a perfect form of presentation of the economic sector. The official languages used during all the
meetings and events of the Forum are English, Polish and Russian. During the last Forum out of 2350
participants more than 1200 came from nearly 60 countries of the world.
Krynica’s Forum has grown into the best known place of meetings of entrepreneurs from the
East and the West. It is a suitable occasion for meetings and informal talks attracting to the event
more and more business people from entire Europe and the world. The number of participants in
the Forum has started to increase rapidly since 2000 and today it is the biggest event of this type in
the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Last year’s XX Economic Forum, its momentum, diversity,
and first of all the record breaking number of guests are the best
confirmation of the success enjoyed by the meeting concept proposed
for years. During conferences like this politicians determine the trust
level to their countries, which is indispensable for business circles to
make investment. Talks about relations between old and new Europe
still attract increasingly wider groups of participants and listeners.
There are more and more people, who want to discuss how to build
the free-market economy faster and more effectively, how to overcome
economic difficulties and avoid mistakes at building a modern state of
Analyzing the image of the Forum in opinion-forming foreign press, one can see how frequently
the Forum is mentioned as an exceptional meeting place of new, Central and Eastern Europe with
the West, as a place where so important issues are discussed as perspectives of the development of
Central European stock exchanges, regional energy security or the possibility to realize investment
in the countries of the region.
Every year the debates of the Forum are reported by the biggest Polish and world’s media. The
last Forum welcomed 500 journalists from all over the world, representing nearly 200 editorial
teams. So important opinion-forming journals as, for example, Le Monde and Le Soir coined for
the Forum the name of the Eastern Davos. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in one of the reports
wrote that in the beginning of the 90’s none could even dream that
Krynica based meetings of the then business and political leaders
from the Eastern block would be mentioned together with the World
Economic Forum in Davos. In the same time in the French journal Le
Monde one could have read that the „Economic Forum in Krynica
has been unquestionably a meeting of economic and political elites
of Central and Eastern Europe” and that „Krynica has become a
symbol of the ambitions of Poland to recognize it as a full-fledged
regional superpower in the new, bigger EU. The event provides the
opportunity for frequent contacts among the representatives of the
business world. According to the American monthly Forbes magazine
the Forum is certainly a good place for establishing contacts and
exchanging ideas, which is every year visited by outstanding
managers and most recognized experts, especially foreign ones.
According to many participants, the meeting in Krynica over nearly
two decades of its history has become one of the most important
business and intellectual events in Europe. The guests in Krynica have
paid more and more attention to the comprehensive character of the
event and a broad view of not only Central Europe, but also global
Project “Promotion of the Polish economy on international markets”,
co-financed by European Regional Development Fund
Subaction 6.5.1 Innovative Economy -National Cohesion Strategy 2007-2013