Poland’s PGF ‘Remarkable’ Story of Growth; Kicks off NRF 2008 International Forum

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Zero to $1B (USD) in 15 years; award-winning Loyalty Program key to expansion.

Building a national brand was critical to our expansion strategy.

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A start-up pharmaceutical distributor with two recent graduates of technical school, some old cars, connections and ambition, Polska Grupa Farmaceutyczna (PGF) launched in 1990—the same year Lech Walesca was elected president of Poland, signaling the end to Communist domination and the beginning of PGF’s remarkable rise to become one of Central and Eastern Europe’s fastest growing and most innovative companies.

Just 15 short years later, PGF achieved over $1B (USD) in annual sales. Since then, it has launched the award-winning Dbam o Zdrowie (“I Care for My Health”) Customer Loyalty Program, added 455 DoZ-owned pharmacies (in addition to affiliated, co-branded pharmacies), and expanded its distribution and retail operations into Great Britain and Lithuania.

Said Jacek Szwajcowski, Founder and President of the Executive Board: “Building a national brand was critical to our expansion strategy.” The DoZ Loyalty Program enabled us to build awareness nationally while incurring the loyalty of customers who began to choose DoZ-branded pharmacies over the many, formerly state-run, now private mom-and-pop pharmacies that glut the Polish marketplace.

Richard Grunsten, Co-Presenter, Chairman and CEO, GSP Marketing, outlined the necessary steps to creating attitudinal and behavioral change in a country where entrepreneurial drive had long been suppressed. “Change almost always results in push-back. We needed to find the path of least resistance. Most everyone—the distributor, the pharmaceutical suppliers, the pharmacists, and the customer—could see that Loyalty Programs result in a win-win for everyone.”

Part of the International Forum on “Growing and thriving in Emerging Markets,” co-presenters Szwajcowski and Grunsten presented their remarks at the National Retail Federation’s 97th Annual Convention and Expo, held January 13-16, 2009, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

In 1997, Polska Grupa Farmaceutyczna S.A. became the first Polish wholesaler of medicinal products to offer shares on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. With the funds raised, it proceeded to consolidate the Polish pharmaceuticals distribution sector. Following a series of M&A transactions, the company became the major distributor and service provider on the healthcare market and has maintained its leadership in all segments of that market ever since. One out of every five medicines sold by Polish pharmacies comes from PGF’s warehouses (19 percent of the market). The company is also the largest supplier in Poland of medicines to hospitals (http://www.pgf.com.pl).

Founded in 1978, GSP Marketing, with offices in Chicago, Poland, and China, is one of the largest privately-held marketing companies in America. A full-service direct marketing agency that combines state-of-the-art creative and production facilities with data analytics, the GSP difference is its value proposition—driving profit through information-driven creative solutions. GSP’s staff of 72 seasoned professionals has proven track records in Client Services, Account Management, Database Marketing, Marketing Analytics, Creative, Photography, and Pre-Press Production. GSP Marketing measures campaign success by increasing response along with a high return on investment. For additional information, contact Francey Smith at 773-271-1093.        


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