Empik invades Poland’s neighbors

In 1991, when the EMPiK company was created, probably no one would have predicted that it would soon turn into a brand known almost everywhere in Poland. Today the EMPiK chain consists of more than 80 shops and, according to company owners, will continue to expand both in Poland and abroad.

EMPiK shops sell newspapers, music, books and cosmetics, and the chain also owns language schools. The company inherited its name from KMPiK (International Book and Press Club), which during the Communist era was for many Poles the only source of independent information about the outside world. After Poland’s economic system suddenly switched from central planning into a market economy, EMPiK was created as a joint venture between the government-appointed owner of the clubs and two businessmen.

The two multiplied their investments in just three years, and in 1994 EMPiK was sold to the Dutch company Eastbridge. In a decade Eastbridge has become a leader in non-food consumer brands on the Polish market. Eastbridge has acquired rights to distribute some of the world’s recognizable lifestyle brands like Chanel, Shiseido, Dior, Zara, Hugo Boss and Mexx.

As this kind of market grew in the late 90s, so did the distributor. In 2004 Eastbridge owners decided to become a part of EM&F (EMPik Media & Fashion) group. Eastbridge then merged with NFI Hetman, a mutual fund established in 1995, and received funds needed to expand. In March 2006, Smyk, an EM&F-owned children?s goods retailer, opened its first shop in Germany. Soon the brand started operations in the Ukraine, where it also bought a network of bookstores called Bukva.

The bookstores are being converted into EMPiKs with a major change in their store format. This is only the beginning of EMPiK’s expansion. In addition to the new shops abroad, about 80 new locations are planned in Poland in 2008 and at least as many in 2009. And if everything goes as planned for EM&F, Poland will soon have its first internationally recognized chain of shops.

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