Belfast Telegraph

All-Ireland business monitor shows most positive finding in six years as 40% of firms report growth

By Clare Weir

An all-Ireland business survey is reporting its most positive findings since 2008.

The InterTradeIreland Business Monitor for the third quarter of 2014, which polled 750 firms in Northern Ireland and the Republic, has shown that almost 90% of companies are reporting stability.

However, more southern firms are expanding (47%, up from 29%) than those in Northern Ireland (40%, up from 36%) and Aidan Gough from the organisation has urged companies not to miss out on investment opportunities.

Figures indicated that almost nine out of 10 businesses were either stable (43%) or growing (45%).

InterTradeIreland said that this was the highest percentage of firms reporting to be in growth mode since the recession began and is almost double the number of firms in growth mode compared to this time last year (26%).

This is transferring into employment, with 12% of firms reporting to have increased staffing levels in the third quarter, up slightly from 11% in the previous quarter.

Firms across the island are also reporting an increase in profitability.

Challenges noted included the rising cost of overheads, energy costs and cash flow. A quarter of firms also stated that the current economic climate was affecting their business, with 18% reporting taxes and rates as having a detrimental impact. Aidan Gough, strategy and policy director at InterTradeIreland, said that while the recovery had been driven by exporters and larger firms, smaller local businesses are now on the up.

"The growth is also filtering down to smaller firms, most of whom now have a more positive outlook," he said.

"There is still an element of caution in the marketplace in terms of investment intentions. This reflects the uncertainty in wider international markets and in the falling demand in the eurozone.

"Prudence is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing if associated with good business planning and cash management but firms should ensure that they are not missing opportunities."

He added that the latest survey showed that firms were still very reliant on short-term finance solutions such as an overdraft.

Belfast Telegraph