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SFA: 2015 To Be A Strong Year For Small Firms

The Small Firms Association (SFA) has forecast a positive year ahead for small firms, according to its ‘Small Firms Outlook For 2015’ survey report.

The findings show that 66% of businesses in Ireland are growing, while 28% are maintaing their businesses at a stable level. Meanwhile, just 6% of the 867 members surveyed say they are seeing a decline in business.

SFA Director, Patricia Callan welcomed the results, and said that the Association predicts that 2015 will see strong growth remain in the economy in the order of 4-5% GDP growth.

She said, “2014 saw the initial green shoots from the cities spread gradually throughout all regions and towns throughout the country. Broad-based regional economic growth must be a priority focus in 2015.”

In particular, Callan said that the continuing weakness of the Euro should help exporters in the food and drink sector, as the price of their goods will be cheaper in key markets such as the UK and US. “It should also serve to boost the tourism sector and consequently demand in the domestic economy for food and drink producers locally,” she said.

The survey respondents also predict strong investment levels in their businesses in 2015, with 72% saying that they will invest in their business in the next 12-24 months. While 20% are unsure if they will invest or not at this stage, just 8% do not plan further investment at present.

Investment in brand development is the priority for 41% of respondents, with 26% planning to make investments in staff, 18% in IT, and 13% in improving their customer knowledge, with 2% planning further investment in machinery.

Callan said, “Small firms have now moved from survival mode to focusing on how they can grow their market share. Brand development and marketing are key parts of this strategy and hiring and retaining the right people is already emerging as a problem in many sectors, particularly in IT and high-tech sectors. Owner-managers are now focusing on upskilling themselves and their teams to gain competitive advantage.”

Furthermore, Callan noted that small firms believe that offering great customer service is crucial to their success, with 29% ranking this as a first priority, followed by employing the right people (25%), keeping pace with technology (20%), heeding the competition (19%) and keeping tight controls on costs (18%).

© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Genna Patterson

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