Cork businesses report strong start to 2017 despite Brexit uncertainty
Cork Chamber’s first quarterly economic trends survey of 2017 reviewed activity over the closing months of January, February and March. The survey, which was conducted by Cork Chamber during April 2017, highlights the confidence and practicality underpinning the Cork business community.
Cork Chamber CEO, Mr. Conor Healy, in commenting on the survey findings, stated: “It is a testament to the Cork business community to have surveyed business confidence levels during Quarter 1 of 2017 at 91% across our business members. Notwithstanding the strength of this figure, the Q1 2017 figure does report a decrease of 7% on the Q4 2016 business confidence levels. This is most likely attributable to business uncertainties relating to geopolitical factors such as Brexit. Nonetheless, it is still very much reflective and consistent with quarterly reported levels in the 90 percentile range going back to 2014, and an excellent signal of the ongoing steadiness and future outlook of the Cork business community.”
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 (55%), Industry and Manufacturing (11%), Science and Technology (10%), Travel and Tourism (9%), Construction (9%), Agriculture and Fishing (2%), Transport (2%), and Multi-sectoral (2%).
Mr. Healy, CEO, Cork Chamber, commented, “The Q1 2017 survey findings also report a strong 82% of business respondents indicating an expected increase in turnover over the next 12 months, with 59% of respondents indicating an expected increase in employee numbers during the same period. Such investment in personnel is, as always, a positive indication of business sentiment and correlates well to the future growth estimations surveyed”.
As part of the Q1 2017 survey questions, business respondents were asked to rank the characteristics of the region for attracting further and future inward investment. Cork Chamber CEO, Conor Healy, in concluding stated, “Within the Top 5 enablers listed were skills and talent availability; residential property availability (for rent/ purchase); accessibility and connectivity; quality of life and residential property costs. This ranking is not a surprise and Cork Chamber are actively working to ensure a conducive and enabling environment to reach the potential of the region. The survey findings in this area are important in informing the priorities of our members and the business community across the region and there is huge value attributable to our members and their participation in this regionally reflective survey.”
Furthermore, when asked to rank the top five threats to business growth, survey respondents noted in order of prominence, Brexit as number one, followed by managing cashflow, cost competitiveness, skills availability and as number five, changing consumer spending/ reduced orders. These were followed closely by levels of taxation, availability of housing/ rental accommodation and levels of physical connectivity. As with the Q4 2016 survey findings, commentary also reflected concerns in relation to trade and U.S. government policy.