Cześć! Or as we say in English, ‘Hello!” Polish is a very interesting language, especially for non-native and English-speaking people (I dare you, try saying the name of the town of Bydgoszcz). Just like its language, Poland boasts a number of utterly unique and world-famous brands and companies.
After a successful economic liberalization following communism, and being the only EU country to avoid recession during the 2008 economic downturn, Poland was able to create a thriving and varied economic base for the development of old and new homegrown companies. Now the sixth largest economy in the EU, Poland has been the breeding ground for numerous fascinating business endeavors spanning a wide array of economic sectors, from software engineering to the entertainment industry, transport and gaming.
This article will try its best to present a (non-exhaustive) list of the most famous and successful Polish brands and companies around the world.
Solaris Bus and Coach
Poland is a huge country, the largest in Central Europe and one of the biggest in the EU. Transport infrastructure are therefore key, and it’s crucial to be able to get around rather comfortably around the country; a necessity that prompted the creation of top-notch companies operating in the transport sector, like Solaris Bus & Coach, a Poznan-based firm specializing in the production of buses and other public transport vehicles.
Although the company first saw the light of day back in 1994, the Solaris brand was established five years later, in 1999. Today, Solaris is the Polish leader, and one of the big names in Europe, in the production of hybrid, electric and zero to low-emission buses – although it also manufactures diesel ones. Fun fact: the mascot of the company is a green dachshund, symbolizing the low-floor-shape of its buses and the environmentally friendly stance of the company.
Today, Solaris buses can be found all over Europe. Tellingly, the company recently won the tender to provide the city of Warsaw with a huge fleet of electric buses as part of the capital’s bid to tackle its rampant pollution problem.
This company is probably one of the most recognizable and famous Polish companies in the world… although few people know it originates from Poland. CD Projekt is a video game publisher based in Warsaw, and owner of the CD Projekt RED development studio, responsible for bringing the Witcher video game series to all the gamers around the world, as well as the long-awaited and upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game.
Before making their own games, CD Projekt began in 1994 by translating foreign major game releases into Polish and distributing major releases throughout Central Europe. The first huge success of the company was the installment of the Witcher game series based on the works by Andrzej Sapkowski, a Polish fantasy writer (a Netflix adaptation of the fantasy series is due to be released soon). The ‘Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’ later on won several game of the year awards and was both a critical and commercial success, praised for its writing, graphics and representation of Slavic mythology and music. It shipped 20 million copies worldwide, cementing CD Projekt as a major publisher and video game company worldwide. Hopefully, it will go on to create more engaging and interesting stories in the future, as fans have been eagerly waiting for their next game, ‘Cyberpunk 2077’.
To be completely thorough, we should say that Poland has many other interesting gaming studios (CI Games, People Can Fly or Rebellion, for example), but CD Projekt is probably the most famous.
Undeniably, the most famous Polish candies in Central Europe are the krówki (literally, “little cows”, a delicious fudge-based candy known not only by our grandparents, but also by little children and entire generations of Poles.
Although it isn’t made by a specific company, the most famous factory is the Krowka Opatowska, that has been flooding the Polish and European market with krówki for over four decades. Krowki are very traditional milk-based candies with a caramel taste, usually with a filling. As soon as you cross the border to Poland or are close to the Polish border, you can be sure to always find some kind of merchant by the road or shops in town selling these melting little treasures. Any trip to Poland without tasting a wide variety of krówki is, needless to say, unworthy of its name.
Those, who like to go to malls or are just generally the types to go shopping for more premium clothes might know the brands Reserved, Cropp, House, Mohito or Sinsay, all of which are gathered under the LPP company, a major clothes wear business founded in 1991 in the coastal Polish city of Gdansk: a company with undeniable Polish roots that has since then gone global like few others, with more than 1,700 stores located in 20 countries mainly in Central and Eastern Europe, but also the Middle-East and the UK.
Each of the brands is aimed at a specific target demographic. For example, Cropp is aimed at teenagers, while Sinsay targets young teenage girls that like to follow fashion trends. The cream of the crop is Reserved, which offers the latest styles for both men and women, but also children with the guarantee of wearing premium feeling fabric for a reasonable price.
You might have not heard about this company, but Asseco is one of the largest corporations in the technology sector listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. It leads a multinational group operating in the information technology sector comprising more than 50 companies worldwide.
It’s been providing computer software technology for the banking industry since 1991 and boasts a revenue of 1.3 billion euros. The company from Rzseszos (go ahead, try to pronounce it) is nowadays an essential and emblematic part of Poland’s ever growing and attractive economy and a proud testament of the country’s increasing importance in the European and international banking, software and technology sectors.
Would you like to know more about flagship Central European companies and businesses? Feel free to browse through our other articles:
Written by Mark Szabo
An international relations and European politics student at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, Márk grew up in a bi-cultural Slovak-Hungarian family, stoking his interest in Central European politics and cross-national relations. A former intern at the Bratislava-based Globsec Institute, Márk aims for a career in diplomacy. He joined the team of Kafkadesk contributors in April 2019. To check out his latest articles, it’s right here!