InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Highlights Winners and Losers in Competitive Economy

InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Highlights Winners and Losers in Competitive Economy

 

Intensely competitive economic environment

The latest quarterly InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Report (January – March 2017) reveals evidence of an intensely competitive economic environment.  While companies are taking advantage of buoyant levels of market confidence, they are also dealing with many challenges caused by rising energy, overhead and supply costs, new competitors and difficulties recruiting appropriate skills. 

 

Stable growth for some but others in certain sectors are struggling

83 per cent of businesses continue to hold their ground or to grow but there has been a 50 per cent increase over the year in the number of businesses that are struggling (12 per cent in Q1 2016 to 18 per cent in Q1 2017).

 

Impact of rising costs

Those facing the greatest competitive challenges are in the 'retail, distribution & other services' sector and the construction sector, where 27 per cent and 24 per cent of businesses respectively describe themselves as reducing, surviving at all costs or winding down.  In these sectors, many businesses are more likely to face challenges dealing with rising costs either by absorbing them or passing them on in the face of intense competition.  

 

Challenging times for micro-firms

Micro-businesses are also finding it more difficult to compete, with 20 per cent reporting difficult conditions compared with only 4 per cent of firms employing more than 50 people.  Larger companies and those that export are also more likely to be growing (62 per cent and 55 per cent respectively) compared to around a third of micro-firms (35 per cent) and non-exporters (32 per cent). 

 

Positive knock-on effects of consumer confidence

Q1 Business Monitor also reveals a strong level of business and consumer confidence.  A greater number of firms are reporting a growth in sales in Q1, up from 59 per cent last quarter to 63 per cent.  Across all sectors more businesses have increased their employment than reduced staff numbers, and looking ahead confidence remains positive.

 

Benefits of business support programmes

The economy remains buoyant but operationally challenging, with many counter-balancing issues to deal with.  In such an environment it's easy to lose sight of strategic moves that can protect and grow businesses.  InterTradeIreland's support programmes such as FUSION and Acumen, which help firms to develop opportunities in innovation and export, are delivering lasting, tangible benefits to participants.

 

Brexit

The Business Monitor also found that 98 per cent of firms are still not making any plans for the UK’s exit from the European Union, which is concerning as it is an issue that will affect business right across the island.   The demands of the current intensely competitive environment may explain this, with firms more focused on facing the existing challenges, in addition to the lack of information available on the various potential avenues of impact.

 

Dedicated InterTradeIreland Brexit support service

InterTradeIreland’s message is simple - while we recognise the pressures facing small business owners dealing with the here and now, there is, nevertheless, a window of opportunity that must be grasped to prepare for the challenges and indeed the opportunities that will be presented by a new cross-border trading relationship set to emerge over the next few years.  Our new Brexit Advisory Service is available to support and encourage businesses to 'Plan, Act & Engage' in preparation for Brexit.  Further information on the service is available here.

 

Business Monitor

InterTradeIreland’s quarterly Business Monitor survey is the largest and most comprehensive business survey on the island and is based on the views of more than 750 business managers across Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Business Monitor differs from other surveys in that it is seen to be the ‘voice of local businesses’ feeding directly from telephone interviews conducted with firms of all sizes from across a range of sectors to track all-island economic indicators such as sales, employment, business outlook and other specific topical research areas on a quarter by quarter basis.  Further information on this quarter’s Business Monitor can be found here.

 

 

Comments 1

David O'Halloran on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 07:36

Very interesting report. Stats on the lack of planning around Brexit are an eye opener. Will hopefully see more firms engage with support programmes offered by IntertradeIreland and other agencies.

Very interesting report. Stats on the lack of planning around Brexit are an eye opener. Will hopefully see more firms engage with support programmes offered by IntertradeIreland and other agencies.
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