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News : Irish Last Updated: Jun 14, 2011 - 8:24 AM

Almost half of all businesses contracting or struggling to survive in Ireland - - North and South
By Finfacts Team
Jun 13, 2011 - 12:01 AM

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New research published on Sunday that was undertaken with 1,000 business managers across Ireland, North and South, shows that nearly half of all businesses in Ireland are contracting or in survival mode. The results show that weak consumer sentiment is continuing to have an impact on businesses with 70% of all companies surveyed citing reduced consumer demand as a concern although 38% had moved to decrease prices over the last quarter. Almost one third of businesses are reported to be struggling to remain profitable.

On the optimistic side, the results also show that one in six companies currently describe themselves in growth or expansion mode with the businesses most likely to experience positive growth in the manufacturing (23%), business services (23%) or other services (23%). Companies with more than 50 employees are also more likely to be growing than smaller businesses.

The research, which was undertaken by the cross-border public agency, InterTradeIreland,  over October to December, assesses trends amongst businesses on a quarterly basis and indicates an upward trend in sales projections.

Aidan Gough, director of Strategy and Policy with InterTradeIreland, said: “The factors behind this growth mode for firms have been laid bare by the Business Monitor. Those businesses which are diversifying into new products or services or entering new markets are those which are currently growing.”

“This is particularly true of market diversifying businesses which are almost twice as likely (31%) to be in expansion mode as the norm (16%). Those firms (21%) which are innovating their products and services are also more likely to be in growth mode. Policies which encourage and support companies to innovate and export are those which will lead directly to growth. The lesson from the survey is that we need more of these companies driving the economy’s recovery. Standing still is not an option. Continuous innovation is a core business process for successful firms.”

InterTradeIreland’s survey indicates that around 30% of companies which are exporting or involved in cross-border trade are reporting increased sales, compared with only 18% of those which are operating solely in local markets.

Access to finance for day-to-day cashflow and cost control continue to be cited as the main challenges. The rising costs of all overheads, but particularly energy, is seen by two in five businesses as a ‘very large issue’ for them.

Aidan Gough commented, “T
he outlook is still in the balance with 50% of firms contracting or in survival mode. We are unlikely to see any significant increases in employment or growth in the short to medium term. However the roadmap is very clear - -  we need more companies exporting and innovating.”

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