Irish businesses won’t be seeing red any time soon

73% of firms tell InterTradeIreland’s latest quarterly monitor that they’ve been profitable over the last 12 months

Nearly three quarters of businesses surveyed by InterTradeIreland say they are profitable - the highest percentage since pre-Covid (Natee127/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Irish businesses have largely restored their profitability - and don’t expect to slide back into the red anytime soon.

Around 550 of the 750-plus firms surveyed for the latest InterTradeIreland quarterly business monitor admitted they were profitable over the last 12 months.

At 73% of all respondents, that’s the highest overall figure since before the Covid pandemic struck.

And most are optimistic they’ll stay in the black, with the monitor revealing that stability is the prevailing mood among firms across the island, with 32% of firms growing and 60% standing still.

. (Gary)

And while challenges still remain about sourcing the right people, some 42% of larger SMEs are still predicting employee growth over the next six months.

“With the Ireland and Northern Ireland economies both sitting at close to full employment, we can see from our data that recruitment is one of the top issues for businesses, and we’re here to help them to innovate to drive productivity and address skills gaps,” according to Martin Robinson, InterTradeIreland’s director of strategy.

Other concerns for firms in both jurisdictions remain around energy costs and overheads, though most respondents believe the speed of price rises will slow as inflationary pressures ease.

. (Gary)

Looking ahead, 58% of companies predict their prices will remain the same, while the number of businesses saying they have increased their prices significantly has halved from the start of last year to just 15%.

Businesses also are now more aware of the circular economy as a means to re-use resources and reduce cost and wastage.

Two thirds (63%) say they incorporate circular economy principles, with a further 15% working towards this.

But while the majority of businesses admit sustainability and net-zero is important, only 20% actually have a plan (though 17% are developing one). Seven in 10 of those without a plan don’t envisage developing one in the next five years.

. (Gary)

Mr Robinson added: “It’s short-sighted of SMEs not to start thinking about the sustainability question, because the transition to a low-carbon world is lifting technology investment and is attractive to funders.

“Increasingly, larger companies and public sector organisations are seeking green credentials from smaller companies in their supply chains. Looking at new ways of doing things can also make you more efficient and save money.

. (Gary)

“A number of the partners we collaborate with, including Invest NI and Enterprise Ireland, have various schemes in place to help businesses integrate sustainability practices that will also enhance their competitive advantage. Businesses really should start to explore the support available.”