Irish firms ‘still have no Brexit plan’

Most firms on both sides of the border have no plan to deal with the fallout from Brexit even though 40% of businesses have already been affected in some way, according to trade promotions body InterTradeIreland’s Business Monitor survey.

The quarterly survey based on 750 managers in the North and the Republic also found a large majority of businesses have no plans to recruit more staff because they are already working at full capacity, and are possibly coming up against problems in finding staff with the right skills.

Some 95% of businesses have no active plan for Brexit, which said InterTradeIreland was “a real concern” because significant numbers of firms trading across both jurisdictions, as well as those who don’t, have been affected.

“While we encourage businesses to concentrate on the day job and operational effectiveness, we also advise companies to use this time strategically to look at the possible impacts of Brexit.

"By asking relevant questions and working through different scenarios, businesses which have proved resilient in the past, will discover new solutions and opportunities in the challenges that lie ahead,” said director of policy and strategy Aidan Gough. He added that SMEs have the ambition but need to plan for growth.

Overall, the survey finds most firms on both sides of the border report their businesses are either growing or remain stable — though firms which trade across the island are faring comparatively better.

The survey found 89% of businesses were close to or at full capacity.

“While this may signal a welcome improvement in productivity performance, it may also reflect an increasing number of businesses reporting difficulties in recruiting appropriate skills. Cost increases in overheads and through the supply chain are also major challenges with which firms are facing,” according to the survey.

Any rise in costs may be worrying because the survey finds most firms face “very tight margins — below 10% — and therefore carry a high exposure to rising costs”.

It plans to host its next Brexit seminar in Croke Park in early December.

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