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Polish companies in Ukraine. How to survive in a time of war?

The Russian front literally swept away a Polish farm near Izium and the last workers it was impossible to evacuate were shot in cold blood. After several days the Ukrainian army liberated the area but a result of the “battle of mink farm” the remaining building were destroyed.

For Plast-Box, a Polish producer of plastic boxes, buckets and containers, a factory in Chernihiv implying proximity to the Belarusian and Russian borders was to be an opportunity in terms of logistics. And yet, after the war broke out the works became one of the primary objects of attack. It was bombed by the Russians and it utterly stopped functioning. – But we have a great deal of faith and strength, so we should rebuild this site and this business – announces the company’s CEO, Grzegorz Pawlak.

Business had been doing great

There are 2486 Polish companies in Ukraine, among which 459 with purely Polish capital – data provided by InfoCredit. All together they could employ ca. 30,000 people before the war. Only in 2020 the domestic business invested in Ukraine as much as PLN 3 billon. Since February 24 Polish entrepreneurs have been trembling for their investments located beyond the Eastern border.

– My factory is still standing and hasn’t been bombed, for obvious reasons though it hasn’t been functions for over two months – Henryk Owsiejew, the Suwałki-based Malow’s CEO tells TVP Weekly. It’s a company producing more than 2 thousand furniture models, mainly metal ones, employing over 750 people.

Its beginnings date back to 1985. The Kharkiv factory means not only the company’s development but also pragmatic approach to Eastern markets. The duty imposed on Polish goods on the Russian market amounted to approx. 30%. But when the same goods were manufactured in Belarus or in Ukraine this levy would no longer apply. Kharkiv was close to the Russian border so Malow economized on transportation costs as well. The East of Ukraine is also a metallurgical hub which means an easy access to raw materials. The cost of erecting a production hall and the purchase of machinery in this case was relatively low and amounted to PLN 3 million. The main, fully modern machine park along with the headquarters itself are based in Suwałki. This business had been doing great – until the war broke out.

Owsiejew admits that the majority of his crew simply went to the front. The managerial staff are now at Suwałki, ready to resume production at any time.

Back to work

Many Polish entrepreneurs invested in Ukraine for the same motives as Owsiejew. In Kharkiv, Malow is neighbored by Nowy Styl for example. It also produces furniture, not only made of metal. They too benefited from the proximity of the border and from a large Russian market. The war has completely changed their approach to Eastern business. The production is also halted there but the factory buildings were not shattered. Their CEO decided to establish a fund that shall provide help with Ukrainian workers and their families. Nowy Styl has completely withdrawn from the Russian market and doesn’t intend to return there.

The Relpol works are locate in Chernihiv. So at the Russian border as well. And initially the production was stopped. And yet, after 2.5 weeks the management chose to go back, at least partially, to work. The company majors in manufacturing relays used, inter alia, in telecommunication or household appliances.

Click here to read the full story.

By Karol Wasilewski

Translated by Dominik Szczęsny-Kostanecki

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