Newry is a region renowned for its resilience and entrepreneurial spirit

Feargal McCormack
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEWRY is renowned for its resilience and has generated an entrepreneurial spirit that is seen as second to none in Ireland.

Boasting a rich heritage as a trading town (now city) on the economic corridor between Dublin and Belfast, it one of Northern Ireland's fastest growing regions, an area renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit, dynamic business leaders and talented workforce.

Home to seven of Northern Ireland's top 100 companies, small local businesses have been developed into global organisations. Norbrook Laboratories, Rockwell Collins and the MJM Group, for example, are recognised as some of the north's top performing companies on an international stage

The recent announcement of 1,000 new jobs by First Derivatives is a distinct indicator of the growing confidence and prosperity in this city, with some at the company suggesting that Newry could become Ireland's answer to Shanghai.

"This is the sort of infectious ambition and enthusiasm that has the potential to make this city even greater," Newry Chamber of Commerce president Paul Convery told the organisation's recent annual dinner.

"Having just returned from China, where I represented the Chamber in signing our historic friendship agreement with the City of Changchun, I am confident that the opportunity for partnership with China is significant," he said.

"We have opened the door to a city of more than six million people and with the new ‘silk route' rail road directly from Europe to Changchun and with China embracing their ‘Open window' policy, there has never been a better time for companies from the Newry region to look East and expand their export capability."

At home, though, Newry's small indigenous firms continue to make a major impact - none more so than accountancy practice PKF-FPM, a firm consistently recognised as best in class by its peers in both Britain and Ireland.

In September it scored an unique hat-trick at the British Accountancy Awards in London, winning Mid-Tier Firm of the Year, Tax Team of the Year and Partner of the Year (for managing partner Feargal McCormack) - the first time three awards had ever been won by the same company.

That capped a quite phenomenal year for PKF-FPM, which was awarded Tax Team of the Year at the Irish Accountancy Awards in May, was listed on the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work for UK-wide, and won the Managing Talent category (large/medium firms) at the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards.

"Everything here is about our people and the TEAM approach (Together Everyone Achieves More)," says company founder and principal Feargal McCormack.

"We foster a culture that supports greatness, striving to attract and retain the brightest and best by building a strong integrated team, ensuring excellence in service delivery through an emphasis on collaboration, communications and innovation."

It's no coincidence that increased engagement with staff has delivered positive results for PKF-FPM in the 2017/18 financial year including turnover growth of 15.5 per cent, profitability, business-development scorecard results, staff-retention (88 per cent) and low-level absenteeism rate of 1.69 per cent, significantly exceeding industry norms.

Mr McCormack's personal status within the profession has been recognised with his elevation to the presidency of Chartered Accountants Ireland, the island's oldest professional accountancy body, founded 130 years ago and representing 26,500 Irish members in 93 countries.

He will be representing CAI at in Sydney next month at the World Congress of Accountants, the world's number one accountancy conference, which is held every four years and which will feature more than 6,000 motivated professionals and leading experts.

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