Companies’ confidence increasing

SEVEN out of 10 of Ireland’s leading companies plan to recruit this year.

Well over half said that they expanded abroad last year, while nine out of 10 said they do not think NAMA has been successful in easing funding problems.

This is according to a survey of Irish companies who have been recognised as Best Managed by the Deloitte Awards programme over the past three years.

The survey also found that two thirds of respondents feel more confident about the outlook for their companies compared with 12 months ago, despite the fact that just 40% of respondents observed an improvement in market conditions over the last year.

The companies surveyed have total revenues of €6.9 billion and employ over 18,800 people.

With regards to outlook on the economy, two in five said that they believe it will be the second half of 2012 before the economy returns to growth, while just over a third believe it will take place earlier in 2012.

One third of businesses surveyed identified improving customer sentiment as the most important factor in returning the economy to growth, followed by restoring credibility and integrity in the banking sector, which was highlighted as the most important factor in last year’s survey.

The survey also detailed that lack of customer demand was the biggest challenge facing indigenous Irish companies today. The second biggest challenge was availability of funding.

The entrepreneurial spirit present in Ireland continues to be the biggest advantage companies have — as identified by 60% of respondents, this was followed by the educated workforce (18%) and low corporation tax (18%).

The biggest disadvantages currently facing Irish companies include dependence on the Irish market (58%) and the cost of doing business in Ireland (40%).

Partner at Deloitte, Kevin Sheehan said: “The findings of this year’s survey show that despite the fact that significant challenges still exist for indigenous Irish businesses, there is a determination and optimism that companies can overcome these challenges.

“This optimism is also emphasised by the fact that achieving growth and increasing market share was identified as the single most important focus for our Best Managed Companies. This was followed by achieving sustainable growth and overseas expansion. We believe that there are many other progressive companies like the current Best Managed Companies in Ireland, and would encourage them to apply for this year’s programme.”

Two third of respondents said that they believe the change in government has had a positive impact on indigenous businesses. However, just one in five think that the recently announced Jobs Initiative will help their company create employment.

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