More than half of Irish businesses believe Brexit will have no impact on their business

More than half of Irish businesses believe that Brexit will have no effect on their business, according to a new report.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by accountancy firm HLB Sheehan Quinn believe that Britain’s decision to leave the EU will not adversely affect their business.

Under a third (27pc) predicted Brexit would have a negative impact. A surprising 22pc said they expected Brexit to have a positive impact on the year ahead.

However, somewhat conversely, the biggest threat to Irish businesses in 2017 was the possibility of currency fluctuations.

A number of Irish companies encountered serious difficulties last year in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, when the pound tumbled to its lowest level since 1975.

Further turbulence on currency exchanges remains a distinct possibility in the year ahead, with concerns over a “hard Brexit” and Donald Trump’s protectionist policies in the US just two events that could disrupt global markets.

Mark Butler, managing partner of HLB Sheehan Quinn, said the company was seeing opportunities opening up for Irish firms in the wake of Brexit.

“We are starting to see real enquiries from UK-based owner managed business, seeking advice on choosing Ireland as their base for European business post Brexit,” Mr Butler said.

“We are also starting to see opportunity with other international businesses who no longer consider the UK as an option for a European base. FDI businesses require stability, which Ireland continues to offer,” Mr Butler added.

Overall, Irish businesses remain upbeat in their assessment of the year ahead despite external uncertainties.

The report found that 53pc of respondents said their business was performing better than last year, 37pc said things were the same, while only 10pc stated they were doing worse this year. Overall, almost 60pc said they believed their business would perform better over the course of 2017.

“It is refreshing to see most Irish businesses have a positive outlook and are in growth mode,” Mr Butler said.

Access to finance is expected to be a problem for 25pc of those surveyed, while 22pc feared reduced demand would be their primary concern. Just 14pc said that being able to secure adequate resources was their main concern. The majority of those surveyed (58pc) said they viewed the Irish market as their main source of business.

European markets will be the main customers for 21pc of Irish companies, while a further 21pc will rely on markets further afield for their main source of income.

Hiring in the economy will continue this year, albeit perhaps at a slower rate than has been seen in the past few years.

A total of 36pc of companies said they would hire additional staff this year. However, the same amount replied that they would did not intend to do so.

A further 28pc said that they were unsure of investment plans for this year.

Nearly two-thirds (62pc) said that increased compliance demands were adding strain to their business, with 35pc saying the level of compliance required remained the same. Just 3pc reported a decrease.

Significantly, around 82pc of owners of family businesses said they said they had no concrete succession plans in place.
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