Niall Carson/PA Wire

Half of all businesses in Ireland are contracting or struggling to survive

New research by a body which supports small and medium enterprises finds that the rising cost of overheads such as energy is a key concern for many businesses in Ireland.

ONE IN TWO businesses in Ireland is contracting or struggling to survive according to new research published today.

The research by InterTradeIreland – which supports SMEs across the island to develop North-South trade and business development - was undertaken with 1,000 business managers and shows that nearly half of all businesses on the island are contracting or are in survival mode.

Businesses reported that access to finance for day-to-day cashflow and controlling costs are among the main challenges as well as the rising cost of overheads, particularly energy, which two fifth’s of businesses cite as a ‘very large issue’ for them.

InterTradeIreland’s Aidan Gough said of the results:

The outlook is still in the balance with 50 per cent of firms contracting or in survival mode.

We are unlikely to see any significant increases in employment or growth in the short to medium term.

However the roadmap is very clear – we need more companies exporting and innovating.

InterTrade’s research, carried out in the last quarter of 2010, also showed that weak consumer sentiment is continuing to impact with 70 per cent  of all companies surveyed citing reduced consumer demand as a concern.

Around 38 per cent of businesses have moved to decrease prices over the last quarters but InterTrade said that this is likely to have led to one third of businesses reporting that they are struggling to remain profitable.

More positively, a sixth of companies currently describe themselves in growth or expansion mode with the businesses most likely to experience positive growth in the manufacturing (23 per cent), business services (23 per cent ) or other services (23 per cent).

Companies with more than 50 employees are also more likely to be growing than smaller businesses.

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