Some family businesses in Poland have traditionally shied away from promoting their “family owned” status, for fear that private ownership is still viewed with animosity in the post-communist country—but this is changing.

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Consumer trust encourages Polish family firms

Some family businesses in Poland have traditionally shied away from promoting their “family owned” status, for fear that private ownership is still viewed with animosity in the post-communist country—but this is changing.

Some family businesses in Poland have traditionally shied away from promoting their “family owned” status, for fear that private ownership is still viewed with animosity in the post-communist country.

But this is changing thanks to research showing that the Polish public are more inclined to trust family-owned companies—a trend reflected in much of the rest of the world.

Katarzyna Gierczak-Grupińska, founder of Poland’s Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne (Family Business Foundation), was surprised when she set up the organisation in 2011, how many family businesses felt they would be viewed negatively.

In fact, the foundation’s Poles on Family Business Report IV report showed 51% of Polish consumers placed high or very high levels of trust in a family business owner, compared to 39% who trusted an average store clerk, and 25% who trusted a priest.

Nearly half said they would frequent a business more if they knew it was family run, and 37% said they would pay more for products and services produced by families. The most important reasons for supporting a family business were product quality (60% cited), the product being made in Poland (56%) and a feeling that employees were treated more fairly (35%).

Gierczak-Grupińska said since the research began, nearly 800 Polish family businesses had started promoting thier "family-owned" status via a foundation scheme.

The 2017 Trust Barometer—Special Report: Family Business, by public relations firm Edelman, echoed the family business trust factor and found 75% of its 15,000 global respondents trusted family businesses, compared to 59% who trusted non-family firms.

However, the Edelman study also found respondents were sceptical about the heirs to family businesses, with 63% agreeing they would mismanage the company, 53% agreeing they were less impressive and talented, and 56% affirming the next generation were less committed and passionate about the company.

“These views cast a dark shadow on the next generation of family business leaders, who are starkly distrusted,” said Edelman president Richard Edelman in a blog about the research.

The family business ecosystem in Poland is still in a nascent stage, given most businesses were founded after the end of communism in 1989. As such, Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne reported an incoming “tsunami” of succession in the next decade, though only 17% of family businesses had a plan in place to achieve this.

Some of Poland’s most widely-recognised family businesses are ice cream maker Grycan, salmon producer Koral, and meat producer Tarczyński.

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