Invest NI hails 'strong performance' as external sales smash through £20bn mark

Invest NI has hailed a 'strong performance' in 2022 despite the agency being subject of a performance review
Invest NI has hailed a 'strong performance' in 2022 despite the agency being subject of a performance review Invest NI has hailed a 'strong performance' in 2022 despite the agency being subject of a performance review

ECONOMIC development agency Invest NI is hailing a “very strong performance” as the businesses it supports showed increases across all key performance indicators.

And in a performance update for 2022, it says its external sales have surpassed £20 billion for the first time.

The results come after an independent review by former BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons concluded that “dysfunction and division” at leadership level within the arm’s length body were harming its economic performance.

That review made a number of recommendations and called for “urgent and profound change” within the organisation.

Invest NI just has published its key performance indicators (KPIs) for supported businesses, which reveal an increase across all metrics.

It says sales, external sales and exports all increased by over 15 per cent on 2021 figures, with employment continuing to grow in a post Covid environment.

According to its KPIs, it supported 135,214 jobs in 2022 - up more than three per cent on the 2021 figure of 130,935 .

Overall sales rose by 15.4 per cent to £26.3 billion, with external sales rising 16 per cent from £17.7bn to £20.5bn.

Exports stood at £9.1bn - up 16.1 per cent from the 2021 figure of £7.9bn.

The KPIs show that Invest NI-supported businesses account for approximately 75 per cent of all Northern Ireland exports and almost 80 per cent of sales outside the north.

All its supported sectors supported experienced sales growth in 2022, with sales in advanced engineering & manufacturing up by £1bn and by £800m in agri food.

Life and health sciences and digital and creative both reported 20 per cent increases in sales.

The Republic continues to be the largest export market with the Americas (United States of America, Canada and South America) recording the largest growth in sales among Invest NI territories, at 16 per cent on 2021 figures.

Employment within businesses supported by Invest NI also grew across all sectors, with advanced engineering & manufacturing up 917, life & health sciences up 871 and digital & creative up 605 - all showing strong growth post the pandemic.

Invest NI's interim chief executive Mel Chittock said: “These are a very strong set of performance indicators, particularly given the impact the EU Exit and Covid-19 has had on the business community right across Northern Ireland.

“This growth demonstrates the resilience and endeavours of Northern Ireland businesses

“It is also testament to the professionalism and commitment of Invest NI staff and to the help and support of our key partners and stakeholders.

“These results provide us with a very firm foundation from which we can continue to support the growth of the region's economy and deliver on the Department for the Economy’s 10X vision.”

The Lyons review, published in January, said that while Invest NI remains best placed to take forward the north’s economic development activities, there is “considerable room” for reform and repurposing of its leadership, structure, operation, control and public accountability.