Belfast Telegraph

Economic future looking brighter, says UU expert

By Symon Ross

Northern Ireland is lagging behind Britain’s economic recovery but remains better placed than many other UK regions, according to economist Mike Smyth.

Mr Smyth, head of the School of Economics at the University of Ulster, indicated yesterday that the province’s economic future is looking brighter.

Speaking at a breakfast seminar in Belfast he said: “The UK is now in recovery and Northern Ireland is three to four months behind the UK. Northern Ireland is still in a better position than many other regions in the UK. There are signs that consumer confidence has steadied and the housing market has recovered so the platform is there for growth to return.

“But there are some difficult issues which we can’t avoid in 2010 including Northern Ireland’s exposure to assets in NAMA; the water charges debate; public expenditure constraints and capital programmes put under threat.”

Business leaders at the event held by branding experts Manleys were also told how they can make the most of their brand to buck the current economic trend and trade through the recession.

Managing director Lester Manley told the audience: “Local companies need to wake up and smell the coffee, a company’s brand is one of their most valuable assets.

“It is crucial, especially in the current economic climate, that local businesses realise how successful branding can impact positively on their bottom line and learn to capitalise on |this in the upturn. We want businesses to understand that by nurturing and valuing their brand, they will get a return on their investment.”

David Gray, Senior Partner, FGS McClure Watters, also delivered advice on ‘Valuing Brands as Intangible Assets’.

He said: “The event was another great success and provided a platform for business professionals to reach out to companies in Northern Ireland with advice and suggestions on how valuing their brand could help them through these challenging times.”

Other speakers included Kate Lewis, director from Fostering Network NI and Mark Noble managing director, Europe for Tech International, who focused on how branding has strengthened their market position.

Belfast Telegraph