The automotive industry is one of Poland’s top export sectors and also the second most popular industry for foreign investors. French firms have been present in Poland since the early transformation and new ones keep coming to invest in the country’s automotive potential. Meanwhile, a labor shortage has prompted many of them to train their own employees
he automotive industry in Poland is a diversified sector that is developing steadily. Polish production plants have seen their production levels grow within the past three years. Apart from passenger cars and trucks, they are producing an increasing amount of car parts and accessories, intended both for export and for the domestic market. The automotive sector is the second most important industry in Poland with revenue of €31 billion and employing 166,000 people. A significant part of that revenue is generated by companies with French capital.
Foreign investors have thus far invested PLN 712 billion. It’s noteworthy that these companies reinvest the majority of their profits in the country rather than pay them out as dividends. France is the third largest foreign investor in Poland (after Germany and the US). French capital is present in most Polish industries and sectors, creating over a quarter of a million jobs directly and hundreds of additional jobs at their suppliers and partners in all regions of Poland.
The car industry is also the second industry where foreign companies like to invest. Poland is an attractive destination for the automotive sector due to its location, which fuels growth not only on the internal European market, but also expansion to Eastern Europe and beyond.
Poland has increasingly improving road, office and telecommunications infrastructure, a well-qualified workforce and support in the form of Special Economic Zones. All of that makes Poland one of the major investment destinations in this part of Europe for French companies.
Automotive concerns with French capital have been present in the Polish market for years. Apart from giants known to every consumer, like the PSA Group’s Citroën, Peugeot and DS; and Renault Polska, French capital is also located in companies producing e.g. chassis for utility vehicles – such as Gruau Polska, and in companies specializing in car parts manufacturing – Faurecia Polska, Hutchinson Polska and Valeo Polska. We cannot forget about a major car tire producer, Michelin, which has its biggest factory located in Olsztyn, or Saint-Gobain, whose laminated windshield glass is in every other car in Europe.
Companies with French capital operating on the Polish market are benefiting from the growth possibilities that Poland offers. They also see the country’s investment potential, which attracts new French firms to move their operations to Poland, as evidenced by the recent acquisition made by French Benalu group of 100 percent of shares in a company called Mega, a producer of steel tippers and trailers.
French companies operating in Poland are increasingly involved in ecology issues. The changing social awareness requires companies to implement solutions reducing CO2 emissions. Manufacturing companies are increasingly switching to electric and hybrid cars, as well as alternative fuel sources, which are becoming more popular among consumers. Additionally, companies put great emphasis on education. The French Embassy, UNEP-GRID Warsaw, together with French companies, including automotive firms, is holding an annual ECO-MIASTO national campaign this year for the fifth time. Its goal is to promote eco-friendly solutions in cities and municipalities. Renault Polska has been involved in promoting road safety and ecological transportation solutions.
The biggest challenge which is limiting the growth of automotive firms is the shortage of qualified low and medium-level workers. According to estimates, the industry needs several thousand people. Companies are seeking to address the issue by launching automotive courses at vocational schools and the increasingly popular training courses organized by employers themselves. Michelin has been running its own Training Center for years, where it trains employees from Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Companies with French capital have been present in Poland since the beginning of the transformation and their operations here are long-term. The investments they are making, their involvement in the development of the region and of society, as well as strengthening the cooperation with local partners and suppliers put them neck and neck with other companies developing the Polish economy.
General Director of the French-Polish Chamber of Commerce (CCIFP)