Irish SMEs target domestic growth

After years of exceptionally strong export performance driving the SME sector’s recovery, smaller firms are increasingly looking towards home to bolster that growth in the coming year.

Four in 10 Irish SMEs consider domestic market growth as their greatest opportunity over the coming 12 months, compared to just 12% plumping for greater exports as the likeliest route to growth.

The research carried out by the Small Firms Association (SFA) also shows close to 80% of business owners are forecasting an improved business environment in 2016.

“2015 was a significant year in terms of the broadening and deepening of the economic recovery,” said SFA director Patricia Callan.

Some 65% of respondents to the survey indicated their intention to increase their workforce over the year, with Ms Callan predicting up to 30,000 new jobs could be created by small firms in the year.

“Small firms already employ over half of the private sector workforce and almost two-thirds of our members will be hiring in 2016,” she added.

In a separate report compiled by the Irish Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Association (ISME), the employment outlook appears even rosier.

Up to 60,000 jobs could be created by SMEs this year, provided costs are curtailed, according to Isme.

“The recovery might finally be trickling down to SMEs but it is important that we focus now on managing our costs and nurturing this growth,” said Isme chief executive Mark Fielding.

“Despite the improvements at a macro level, SME competitiveness has taken many blows this year. Rents, insurance, energy, and legal costs have all increased, while the slack consumer demand has dictated that pricing and margins have reduced.” Despite 10 of 12 indicators measured by Isme moving in the right direction, the employment prospects of retail firms remains a black spot.

Retailers appear concerned with wage increases and are forecasting a decrease in job creation over the coming months.


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