Jerzy Mazgaj. Who is the businessman who was supposed to dress Donald Tusk?

Jerzy Mazgaj.  Who is the businessman who was supposed to dress Donald Tusk?

Jerzy Mazgaj. Who is the businessman who was supposed to dress Donald Tusk?

“I have three months to prepare my residence in Monaco. A snowball will work in Poland – PiS will win in the fall, and I don’t want to live in the IV Republic. An entrepreneur who runs many companies cannot be additionally stressed that the security services will knock on his door at 6 amand unfortunately it’s quite likely – Jerzy Mazgaj told “Puls Biznesu” in 2015, just after Andrzej Duda won the presidential election.

Besides, the businessman himself was famous for his considerable political involvement. He often openly said that he supported the Civic Platform. He even appeared at the party’s election evening in 2011, where he did not hide his satisfaction with the election result and PO’s victory.

He has praised politicians for this option more than once. And on many levels. “We have one of the best-dressed prime ministers in Europe, elegant and classy,” he said a few years ago about Donald Tusk in “Gazeta Krakowska”.

One of the rumors is related to this. Mazgaj brought many luxury brands to Poland. In Warsaw, he had boutiques where he sold clothes, e.g. Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss and Emporio Armani.

Urban legend had it this is where Prime Minister Donald Tusk used to dress during his time in office. NaTemat even wrote in 2014 that the famous “horror jacket” came from one of Mazgaj’s stores, which Tusk put on in the most crisis moments – during floods, storms or other events “in the open air”.

Jerzy Mazgaj.  Who is the businessman who was supposed to dress Donald Tusk?

Donald Tusk during the football tournament in honor of Arkadiusz Rybicki and Maciej Plazynski.

Wojciech Strozyk/REPORTER / East News

Anyway, it was in the building of Dom Dochodowy at Plac Trzech Krzyży that in 2011 the PO election headquarters was located. This is the same building where Mazgaj had a showroom with Ermenegildo Zegna suits.

The businessman born in Tarnów liked to be considered a man of luxury. He has said many times that he is not ashamed of being successful in life. Years later, however, he admitted that he had not lost touch with reality.

– Due to the fact that I had previously run stores of prestigious brands, journalists were eager to talk to me about Polish luxury. About jewelry, wines, cigars. These earlier publications built the image of a capitalist who watches life out there from behind the glass of a luxury store and talks only to those who can afford an expensive suit – he said in “Wprost” in 2017.

Experience from India

The businessman became involved in the fashion industry – as he said – after visiting India. It was at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, when the country was undergoing rapid economic changes, while in Poland hardly anyone had heard of the middle class.

“He started by importing the ends of the series of well-known brands sewn in Thailand. Clothes with labels recognizable from the movies were selling fast. Encouraged by his success, he wanted to attract foreign clothing companies to the Polish market“- wrote “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” about him many years ago.

Initially, it met with a lot of resistance, because luxury brands did not see an attractive market in Poland. There were no shopping malls or special streets in Poland where Western brands would reign.

The rest of the article is below the video

Eventually, however, Mazgaj managed to convince several giants to cooperate. Then others appeared. Ultimately a businessman brought to Poland Hugo Boss, Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna, Armani and Church’s.

– The prices shocked everyone – recalled Mazgaj in “DGP”. “Customers came in, checked the buttons for gold, and left indignant.

With time, however, more and more people came. As Mazgaj said, they were mainly entrepreneurs who traveled abroad a lot and did not want to look like “poor relatives” in the eyes of their contractors.

So the business was booming, and Mazgaj was multiplying his fortune. Almost simultaneously, he also started importing goods to the Vistula expensive Cuban cigars, with which he often posed during numerous photo shoots for prestigious magazines.

Jerzy Mazgaj also traded in Cuban cigars.  He himself was a fan of them.

Jerzy Mazgaj also traded in Cuban cigars. He himself was a fan of them.

MAREK WISNIEWSKI / Forum Polish Photographers Agency

He earned his luxury

Mazgaj’s fortune grew to such an extent that the businessman permanently entered the ranking of the richest Poles prepared by the monthly “Forbes” and the magazine “Wprost”.

Usually he was in the eighth or ninth ten, and his fortune oscillated around PLN 200 million. The record was reached in 2007, when Mazgaj’s assets were valued at over PLN 560 million, which gave him a place in the top 50.

It was a time when another branch of the Kraków entrepreneur’s business was triumphant. We are talking about the commercial sector. In 2004, he transformed KrakChem into Alma Market.

The new luxury delicatessen chain appeared in fashionable shopping malls all over the country (by the end of 2010, the chain already had about 50 outlets), it also appeared in numerous television productions. Mazgaj even introduced it to the Warsaw Stock Exchange. However, this did not help, because Alma collapsed in 2017.

See also: Remember those super- and hypermarkets? Here are 16 networks that have disappeared from Poland

— A Pole prefers to buy an expensive car, and a Polish woman prefers an expensive branded handbag, because it shows on the outside. And for the fridge, he will buy what is cheaper, because it is no longer visible. It’s hard to trade. Bomi fell. MarcPol has fallen. Marks & Spencer withdrew. Mini Europa stores in Warsaw have collapsed. Well, because there is a perception that sausage is sausage. And wine is wine. Whether I buy them at a discount store or at Alma, it doesn’t matter. It is important that it is not sour and at a bargain price – this is how Mazgaj explained the reasons for the failure in an interview with “Wprost”.

As he added, consistency lost him because “we consistently maintained quality”. “We have not recalled more expensive items. We didn’t pretend to be a cheap shop. We believed that there is a group of people in Poland who want something more, that they like original products, that they can afford not to save on food. There were regional, ecological products, which are inherently more expensive, he complained.

The empire is tottering

One of the leading own brands, which later became a separate company, was Krakowski Kredens. The company dealt with the production of food, mainly meat and other preserves. Usually from regional Polish products.

Krakowski Kredens is one of the newest "kids" Jerzy Mazgaj.

Krakowski Kredens is one of the newest “children” of Jerzy Mazgaj.

Marek Wisniewski/Puls Biznesu/FORUM / Forum Polish Photographers Agency

The history of Krakowski Kredens dates back to 2007, when it operated as part of a company also responsible for the Alma chain. In September 2016, the court received an application from Alma to start sanation proceedings, and then an official one application for liquidation bankruptcy. Shops started to close.

Krakowski Kredens continued to operate, but the number of stores has been shrinking from year to year. In June 2021, the company also declared bankruptcy.

Now the trustee is looking for a buyer for the company’s assets. As we read on the website, the expert estimated the value of the assets at PLN 3 million 774 thousand. zloty. In the current situation, however, the starting price will be lower and will amount to PLN 2.9 million. The trustee hopes to close the transaction in Q1 2023.

In the past, the purchase of Krakowski Kredens was interested in e.g. E.Leclerc or Carrefour, as well as smaller companies.

What about Mazgaj himself? For several years, he has been nowhere to be found in the rankings of the richest Poles, although he still remained active in business (he became one of the shareholders of, among others, Vistula and W.Kruk).

The last time he appeared on the Forbes list was in 2018, when he could boast of a fortune of PLN 498 million. This gave him 96th place in the classification. Since then, however, we will not find him in the top 100.

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