Business Services Sector in Poland can benefit from the nearshoring trend by attracting companies which look for opportunities closer to home
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has directed investors' attention to strategies based on nearshoring. A resilient location, mature labour market, diverse office space choice as well as attractive investment incentives are major reasons why Poland can benefit from this trend.
In the wake of the disruption of the glo-bal supply chains caused by COVID-19, nearshoring (relocating operations closer to a company’s country of origin) is on the rise again, with the attention of many investors being drawn to Poland. Major reasons in favour of the domestic market are undoubtedly the country’s well-qualified labour market and one of the most attractive investment incentives schemes in Europe. Yet another is that Poland has one of the most competitive and diverse office markets in Europe.
Our observations show that companies which provided business services from further afield, such as Asian countries, have faced incomparably greater disruption than those that had developed European hubs before the pandemic. This again is drawing the attention of many foreign companies to nearshoring, and increasingly to Poland, which is perceived as a safe bridgehead for many strategic business processes. As a result, just as after the global financial crisis, we may expect a significant inflow of new outsourcing investments, which in recent months is illustrated by the growing number of potential investors from Scandinavia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland – comments Mateusz Bonca, CEO, JLL Poland.
POLAND AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
Poland’s strategic location at the heart of Europe, its modern IT infrastructure, qualified labour force as well as attractive grants and incentives system are undoubtedly assets that can attract new investors. Last year, Poland again proved to be a safe haven for businesses and confirmed its strong macroeconomic fundamentals and resilience in times of crisis. It very well matches an important site selection prerequisite to locate in the markets that can offer stable economic environment and ensure the continuity of critical business processes – emphasises Iwona Chojnowska-Haponik, Business Location Consulting Director, EMEA, JLL.
What is more, in the Doing Business 2020 ranking, in which the World Bank's economists evaluate regulations facilitating business activity, Poland scored 76.4 out of 100 points, which translated into 40th position among 190 analysed world economies. Poland’s performance exceeded those of other Central and Eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. The Polish economy is also not far behind Western European countries such as Germany and France, which scored 79.7 and 76.8, respectively. Furthermore, according to EY Europe's Attractiveness Survey, Poland ranked first in the region and seventh in Europe in terms of the number of inward FDI in 2020.
HUMAN CAPITAL IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Poland is perceived by investors as a mature and diversified business location, offering extensive access to skilled workers. As a result, foreign companies are increasingly choosing to relocate senior positions to Poland, meaning a rise in the implementation of increasingly advanced processes and functions, and the creation of key decision-making centres in the country that follows. In addition, Poland is attracting not only companies from IT, modern technologies and the finance sector but also pharmaceutical and medical device industries, which see the potential in the development of the clinical research sector in our country – says Łukasz Grzeszczyk, Executive Director – Client Relations, Hays.
Interestingly, investors seek labour markets that offer a balance between the competence, experience and flexibility of employees with labour costs. This means more interesting career opportunities for Polish experts with a strong local BSS background as corporations are interested in local senior managers to lead their business units.
Preferred locations are those where it is possible to find a seasoned site leader who has experience in building a similar structure, in-depth knowledge of the local market and expertise alike. That way, the investor swiftly gains unique local capacities and does not have to carry out a complex and costly relocation of high level employees – says Iwona Chojnowska-Haponik.
GRANTS STRENGTHEN INVESTOR APPETITE
The pandemic made many business services companies put on hold their growth plans. We can say that this initial shock is already behind us. For some time now, we have been seeing an increasing number of the companies from around the world locate in Poland their centres which provide not only transactional services but also operations. US and Western European investors appreciate great value for money: skilled employees pools at still competitive cost levels. Moreover, Poland creates an additional incentive for potential investors – attractive state aid programmes. Recently, the investment incentives scheme has been amended with the aim to better address the needs and expectations of investors – commented Iwona Chojnowska-Haponik.
Major changes to the government's grant programme include lower entry criteria, simplified qualitative assessment of investment projects, and a higher level of support in select locations. These changes are in line with the current trends shaping the modern business services sector. It is worth stressing that Poland is one of the EU countries that offers the highest possible level of support for new investments ranging from 10% in Warsaw to 50% in four regions in Eastern Poland.
Previously, in order to receive financial support, a company which establishes a business services centre had to create at least 250 jobs and invest PLN 1.5 million. Now, a large investor making its first investment or expansion on the Polish market is asked to hire 100 people and incur capital expenditure of PLN one million within a five-year period. However, the level of grant depends on the quality assessment of the project – comments Rafał Szajewski, Business Location Consulting Director, EMEA, JLL.
SERVICES GO HAND IN HAND WITH OFFICES
When compared to the CEE region, the Polish office market is characterized by a number of office hubs. Poland offers as many as nine attractive office destinations, including Warsaw, which has been ranked as the 11th most competitive location in the world, in terms of occupancy costs for premium office buildings. According to JLL, the total office stock in Poland now stands at over 12 million sqm. The balance between Warsaw and regional markets is pretty much evenly distributed (less than 6.1 million sqm vs. over 5.9 million sqm).
Furthermore, Poland provides a wide array of location choices thanks to a well-developed office space offering, including more traditional locations as well as interesting flex options. Depending on the size and type of activities, investors may opt for established office markets or emerging local markets, which can be a viable alternative for companies looking for a second or third location for outsourcing operations.
Poland has all the arguments in its favour to confirm its dominant position among the world's elite destinations in the business services sector. Importantly, business is now won to a much greater extent through innovation, sophistication and high quality output, as well as the specialization of processes delivered in Polish centres. In order to make good use of this opportunity, it is key to ensure an effective utilisation of investment incentives and grants, legislative stability that enables long term planning, as well as working on maintaining the attractiveness of the domestic labour market. The implementation of sustainability measures will become an increasingly important factor and will also need to be addressed – says Mateusz Bonca.