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Around the world in Print – Part 2: Experiencing the Polish Way

A beginner’s guide to press passing abroad

A street in Poland 

At Callimedia, we pride ourselves on providing the best quality at the best value. This means we travel far and wide, and end up in some very interesting places in order to find the best press for the job, and being there in person means we keep the quality at its absolute best.

In this blog, we wanted to share with you an update on printing in Poland…

Poland

The next stop on our irreverent meanderings around the far flung outposts of the European Print Industry is Poland.

It should be stated from the outset that Poland is not a destination for the callow and faint hearted. It is also a challenging choice for those dipping their toe for the first time into the occasionally choppy waters of direct mail print procurement.

How to get there

Flights to Poland are in general easy to come by, with numerous options from all of London’s major airports. LOT, the national airline, is a member of the European Star Alliance.  This does not mean that the 10.55am Luton to Warsaw  flight will be piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca nor will the in- flight fodder, meal would be too strong a word, be served by a woman with two Danish Pastries clasped to her ears. What is does mean though is that whichever airline you book with and however much you have paid, outside of the usual low cost options, you will end up on a LOT aircraft.

The two hour flight will pass quickly enough as you ponder what was in the above mentioned ‘in-flight fodder’, animal, vegetable or mineral?

Upon landing you will be greeted by the state of the art Chopin terminal (The old Etuida terminal, frequented by Easyjet has now, thankfully, been demolished). This is where the ‘fun’ starts. Driving in Poland is not so much a means of getting from A to B but more of a sport. If Lewis Hamilton, having failed to make the grade in Formula 1, decided that selling fries at KFC in Stevenage was not for him he would have made a killing as a taxi driver in Warsaw. The cars travel at only two speeds, 180KMPH or, in cases of absolute emergency, 0KMPH.

As you will almost certainly not speak the language the journey will be undertaken in silence, to the strains of 1980’s power ballads and European Rock Classics, with Jennifer Rush and Dire Straits being particular favourites. (Note to traveller, the only time to really get worried is when ‘The Final Countdown’ by Swedish rockers Europe comes on as this means speed increases and the driver is oblivious to all red lights)   

Assuming you are staying in one of the major cities, Warsaw, Krakow etc and you survived the transit to your hotel you will be greeted by possibly the most helpful hotel staff on the print circuit. Nothing is too much trouble. However, be warned, some printers will try and persuade you to stay in outlying towns, THIS IS TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.  The dedicated Callimedia staff have suffered horrendous indignities in these locales including catching Scabies and being subjected to seven hours of continuous playing by an ABBA tribute band. You have been warned.

Cuisine

If one was to liken a nations culinary prowess to a car, Italy would be an Alfa Romeo; beautiful ingredients, simply put together in a beguiling fashion. Spain would be Lamborghini, fiery, sensuous and smouldering. France would be classic Citroen DS, stylish, innovative, substantial and comforting. Poland would be a thirty five year old brown Austin Allegro that had seen better days after a life of service as a minicab in Istanbul. IT IS TRULY APPALLING.

If you have taken the above mentioned advice and are staying in a city and you value your gastric tract then stockpile fruit and vegetables from the breakfast bar as it is the last you will see of them till the following morning. If you have misguidedly ventured into the wider hinterland, take tinned foods, tangerines to fend off scurvy, a primus stove and a jar of Vegemite with you. Believe me, Ray Mears would struggle in Radzymin.

Printing Culture

Poland is blessed with some very capable print plants that house a multitude of different format presses. In my experience some of this kit is state of the art whilst other kit is more state of the ark, the trick is knowing which is which and where to find it.

Provided you have selected your supply partner wisely, the ink on paper is generally pretty good. The real issues we have experienced involve more of the ancillary elements such as scheduling, file copies and deliveries.  However, I am sure this will improve now that the printers are largely US owned.

So, would I print the Harrods/Fortnum and Mason/ Liberty Christmas catalogue there, where outright quality rather than price are the primary drivers? No. Would I print a high volume LWC insert selling widgets there? Yes. Poland is the right course for the right horse.         

Final Thoughts

Having made more than twenty visits to various parts of Poland over the past decade I would say that it is a fascinating place with an often troubled and painful past that is rapidly evolving. In the middle of winter, Warsaw can make you feel as though you are stepping back in time into a John Le Carre novel. The snow, the architecture, the trams and the sheer greyness of it all are all redolent of a time not long since past when Poland sat behind the Iron Curtain.

However, the Poland of today is in reality a very different place and one that merits consideration amongst print professionals. Our culture at Callimedia is about finding the right press for the right job, and it could be anywhere in the world.

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