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Irish companies believe Brexit will hurt their turnover

By Sean Duffy

Almost half of Irish small and medium-sized businesses (45%) expect turnover to drop this year as a result of Brexit, according to a survey.

The research, by the Irish Small and Medium Firms Enterprises Association (Isme), notes that almost the same percentage (44%) expect no change in turnover, while just 11% said they expected earnings to rise.

Nonetheless, the profound impact Brexit could potentially have on Irish businesses is laid bare by the fact 48% of companies questioned believe profitability will suffer decreases of between 1% and 20% as a direct consequence of Brexit.

One third of respondents said they foresee no change in profitability, while 9% predicted gains of up to 20%.

Chief among the firms' concerns are currency fluctuations, which left many Irish exporters decimated last year in the wake of the June vote.

More than three quarters of Irish small and medium sized firms say Brexit is not having an impact on staffing levels.

In total, 77% of respondents stated that uncertainty brought about by Brexit would not alter their plans for staffing levels in the year ahead.

Provisional data from Isme also shows that over half (52%) of companies have provided wage increases of up to 5% in the first quarter of this year.

That is almost 10% higher than the figure for last year, which stood at just 42.3% for the first three months, an indication that businesses are cognisant of wider wage pressures in the economy despite the uncertainty.

Furthermore, Isme said that around 8.5% of its membership offered raises of between 6% and 10%.

Just over 4.1% of firms reduced staff wages in the first three months, while 35% of companies said they would be leaving employee pay unchanged.

One quarter of respondents said that 20% of their imports and purchases were denominated in sterling.

An overwhelming majority of Irish firms (88%) insisted they would not relocate any of their operations to the UK, while 11% said they could move some of their business across the Irish Sea in order to mitigate Brexit effects.

Over half of Isme companies (54%) have export business in the UK, with 14% replying that the UK market accounts for over 20% of their revenues.

Isme chief executive Neil McDonald said the survey results come with a caveat and did not give the complete picture of Brexit on the sector in the Republic.

Belfast Telegraph