Ryszard Tomaszewski was the first person to be employed by Tesco when it entered the Polish market in 1995. In January 2007, he was appointed as CEO of Tesco Poland and his more-than-19-year fascinating journey with the company saw him move from a small-business entrepreneur to Tesco Poland CEO.

“With my friend, we were co-owners of a small chain of around 50 supermarkets,” explains Ryszard. In November 1995, we sold them to Tesco and I, as the previous owner of that company, became the first Tesco employee. We had built up that business for more than six years after Poland gained its freedom in 1989.

“At that time, the Polish market differed completely from Western economies. There was no private industry or modern retailing. Previously, when we had a communist government, almost everything, apart from family-owned craftsman’s workshops or small shops, belonged to the government. I remember times when it was difficult to buy food that wasn’t sourced from the government. Having gained our freedom, a new era for industry and retailing started and we adopted new laws concerning people’s activities.