The “UNIVERSAL” Foreign Trade Centre

Jan Hollender

Warsaw Symbols

The “UNIVERSAL” Foreign Trade Centre was one of the leading state import and export institutions in communist Poland. Due to the nature of its activity, the regular staff had to work alongside security service undercover agents.


From its founding in 1959 UNIVERSAL was importing consumer goods such as watches, samovars, razors, refrigerators, juicers, bicycles, and food processors. Its exports included screws, nails, electric household appliances, and sports and travel equipment. The enterprise stood out from other state-owned enterprises, as evidenced by the “Universal” building erected in 1965, next to the Warsaw Rotunda. The building has recently been demolished and a new office building will be erected in this place.


In 2003, court declared bankruptcy of the Capital Group “Universal” Inc. (which after the political transformation privatized the company). The first president of the Capital Group, Dariusz Przywieczerski, involved in the FOZZ (Foreign Debt Service Fund) scandal, is still on the list of the most wanted fugitives.