The final economic trends survey of 2018 reported on business experiences during October, November and December. The quarterly survey gathered information across a range of metrics to assess business confidence, the operating landscape, skills and the overall perspectives of business for 2019.
Thomas McHugh, Director of Public Affairs commenting on the survey, “The Q4 survey reports a decrease in business confidence to 92% from 96% in Q3. This comes as no surprise with an increasingly unpredictable Brexit on the horizon. Overall, we see that Cork businesses are taking action with 57% of businesses having reviewed their operations to withstand any related challenges. Though good, this percentage has room to improve. With the prospect of no deal being elevated as a real possibility, it is imperative that business is prudent and takes steps that increase resilience across supply chain, movement of goods and services, sales and marketing, trade tariffs, movement of employees and cash flow.”
The survey findings also reflect that 37% of businesses have a dedicated team member preparing for Brexit scenarios, with 5% engaging a private sector consultancy to support preparations.
Mr. McHugh added, “Overall Cork business is in a very healthy position. We need only look around to see the activity happening in the City and the wider metropolitan area. In relation to turnover and net profit in the coming 12 months, 75% of members expect an increase in turnover, with 72% anticipating an increase to net profit. We are in a very good place and it is an exciting time in Cork but there’s no room for complacency. Cork needs to be driving forward with our Ireland 2040 plans. The enabling infrastructure is essential as we grow our City as an International European City of scale. This is the opportunity to keep this momentum going and we need clarity from Government on timelines and delivery around this.” In concluding, Mr. McHugh commented, “The Top 3 highlighted threats to business were Brexit, managing cashflow and cost competitiveness. Several respondents also emphasised their experiences of labour force shortages across skilled roles. The value of and need for more up-skilling initiatives and apprenticeships was also highlighted. As a region, we’re in a strong position on the jobs creation front with the most recent CSO stats showing the South West unemployment rate at 4.9%, the lowest in the Country and with the state average at 6%. Our survey shows 47% of businesses reporting vacancies with a further 58% indicating their expectation to increase employee numbers over the next 12 months. We need to be attracting skills to Cork and initiatives such as WeAreCork are essential in driving this engagement on the national and international arena.” Respondents to this survey are reflective of a diverse range of responding businesses and are representative of a broad range of sectors, inclusive of Services (including Financial) at 39%, Industry and Manufacturing at 17%; Science and Technology at 8%; Tourism, Travel, Culture and Arts at 15%; Construction at 10%; Transport at 4%; and Multi-sectoral at 7%. - Ends -