Survival of rural-based retail 'at risk' due to having no online presence

Numerous Irish retailers, particularly small rural-based operations, are in danger of going out of business due to having no online presence, accountancy firm RSM has warned.

"Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly and retailers need to ensure that their business model, and culture, is properly aligned with changing consumer preferences," said RSM Ireland's management consulting partner Áine Farrelly.

With rental pressures increasing, competition growing and spending patterns changing, retailers should take a "root and brand" review of what customers want "and to ensure that their business model is fully aligned with that," Ms Farrelly said.

"Retailers must interrogate all aspects of their business and customer service offering to ensure that their business model is resilient enough to face the risks posed by the volatile economic outlook for the year ahead."

RSM has also warned online retailers of "significant damage" to their bottom line if their anti-fraud measures are not robust enough.

Last month RSM said concern over the costs of Brexit is weighing on the minds of consumers across the island of Ireland and could affect the amount of money they spend in the coming year.

Meanwhile, a study by EY has found that Dublin remains the most popular relocation choice for financial services firms looking for a new EU home in the aftermath of Brexit.

According to it, the capital attracted six more financial services firms moving due to Brexit in the final three months of 2018, bringing to 27 the number having committed to relocating staff or operations to Dublin since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

"The latest figures are encouraging for Ireland as there were concerns that rising costs would impact [Dublin's]relative attractiveness," said EY Ireland's Simon MacAllister.

It appears that availability of talent and a proven track record remain the primary concerns for financial firms when exploring relocation.

"With only 30% of London-based firms so far committing to any relocation of activity, there could be more opportunities for Ireland to pursue in the months ahead," he said.

The number of companies relocating from London to Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Paris is also increasing, EY noted, with five companies opting for the French capital in the last quarter.

Last week, the IDA said it has secured more than 55 pan-industry investments as a direct result of post-Brexit location decisions, leading to more than 4,500 jobs. A total of 42 of the moves were by companies investing in Ireland for the first time.

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