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About 138 SMEs a day are asking Bank of Ireland for loans

And they say they are approving 87% of them.

BANK OF IRELAND say that they have approved €3.2 billion worth of funding to SMEs since the start of the year, an 18% jump on last year.

The lender says that more than 46,000 SME credit applications were made between January and September, with an average request for €22,500.

Bank of Ireland says their annual loan approval rate for the first nine months of this year is 87% compared to 84% last year.

Bank of Ireland say that they are the largest bank in terms of business lending with a market share of over 50% and a target to lend €21 billion to businesses up to 2017.

The 8% increase in SME loan applications is driven by the strong performance of the agriculture, motor and retail sectors with the 45% increase in the sale of commercial vehicles also a significant factor.

This increase mirrors the overall growth of car sales which has seen nearly 95,000 new vehicles bought so far in 2014.

Increased consumer confidence is having a direct positive effect on the retail sector according to Bank of Ireland’s Michael Laudoff:

Recent figures are showing that the domestic economy is growing with consumer spending increasing year on year. Positive figures for consumer sentiment and retail sales suggest a continuing recovery.

“Our own figures show that retail sector performance continues to be strong with approvals up by about 50%,” he adds.

The bank says that they expect the agriculture sector to continue to grow despite price volatility in some areas, particularly the beef sector.

The bank says that the abolition of EU milk quotas will serve as an opportunity for farmers to invest and they expect an increase in demand for loan applications for the purpose of land purchase.

Read: Is Ireland really ‘the best small country in the world to do business in’? >

Poll: Is your business really any better off after Budget day? >

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