More than half of Irish SMEs in better financial shape post-recession

2nd October 2014

More than half of Irish small firms feel their businesses are now in better financial shape than they were before the global economic recession took hold.
 
Almost nine-in-10 (87 per cent) are positive about the outlook for the Irish economy in the next 12 months.
 
That’s according to the survey of firms employing fewer than 250 people by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which found that businesses still face key challenges, despite signs that the economy is recovering.
 
The report found that 27 per cent of SMEs feel their finances are in a more perilous state than they were pre-recession, while less than a third (28 per cent) feel that finance is easier to obtain now than 12 months ago.
 
However, four-fifths (82 per cent) of SMEs surveyed remain optimistic about the prospects for their business in the next 12 months, with 85 per cent anticipating increased revenue and almost three-quarters (73 per cent) forecasting increased profits.
 
Brian Bergin, deals partner at PwC Private Business Services, believes the survey demonstrates that a number of Irish small firms are “in growth mode”.
 
“Much of this growth is derived from tried and tested markets, with the UK being very important,” said Bergin.
 
“However, challenges still remain in this very important sector for Ireland, including access to finance, skills shortages, wage pressures and increasing tax burdens.”
 
Of those surveyed, 10 per cent are planning to restructure existing borrowings, while two-thirds (61 per cent) believe the inability to finance growth is the biggest threat to their business expansion.
 
While the Government has been trying hard to encourage Irish businesses to go beyond their current export markets such as the UK and mainland Europe, 61 per cent of SME owners feel the main opportunity for growth lies in targeting the domestic market and their tried and trusted export markets.
 
Only eight per cent anticipate exploring new geographic markets, including China, but taking a longer term view, 64 per cent anticipate expanding their export volumes in the next three to five years.

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