Its second-quarter survey showed that business confidence had risen from the early part of this year to levels last recorded in the final quarter of 2015.
The survey results may indicate rising optimism despite “the recent market turmoil and uncertainties with our closest trade neighbour,” the chamber said.
Most firms — 62% of those surveyed — said they had posted higher sales in the latest quarter, compared with 72% of businesses reporting increased turnover in the final quarter of last year. Some 10% of firms said sales had fallen, while 28% reported no change in the level of their sales.
The chamber said that a significant 57% of firms in the region posted an increased level of net profit, up strongly from the first quarter.
On employment, 40% of firms took on more staff, and only 3% of businesses cut staff numbers in the quarter.
The survey also highlighted that businesses want Finance Minister Michael Noonan in his budget in October to focus on reforms of the USC, reduce employers’ PRSI and to boost housing and infrastructure spend, including building the Cork-Limerick M20.
Members of the Chamber also seek budget measures to improve the tax treatment of the self-employed, a reduction in Capital Gains Tax to UK levels, and a widening of the so-called knowledge development box of tax incentives to SMEs.
“The survey provides evidence of trends over time as well as a snapshot of the sentiment among the Cork business community since the commencement of surveys in 2009 and is a key in informing Cork Chamber policy priorities on behalf of our member businesses,” said Barrie O’Connell, Cork Chamber president.
“It is encouraging to see the resilience and the positive sentiment within the Cork business community especially when asked in relation to the predicted impacts of the recent Brexit vote on our members’ respective businesses, while also acknowledging the potential net downside impact for business over the longer term,” Mr O’Connell said.