Bank of Ireland Business Momentum survey reveals that 66% of business leaders in Ireland are optimistic about the year ahead


  • Bank of Ireland’s National Enterprise Week survey among Irish SMEs, conducted by iReach and issued at the start of National Enterprise Week also revealed 42% of
  • Irish businesses have recruited new staff in the past 12 months, with a similar number planning to recruit new staff in 2014
  • 54% of Irish businesses are either growing or have stabilised with only 14% contracting or looking to downsize
  • 31% of those surveyed see new technologies and a strong online presence as key drivers of growth

To mark the start of National Enterprise Week, Bank of Ireland Business Banking today (Monday 11 November, 2013) launched the findings of a new Business Momentum survey conducted by iReach  among Irish SME’s which shows positive sentiment for the year ahead, with 66% of business leaders optimistic for 2014. Over 42% of Irish businesses reported that they recruited new staff in the last 12 months, with the same percentage again saying that they plan to recruit more staff in 2014.

Other key findings of the iReach survey include;

  • 54% of businesses are either growing or have stabilised, an additional 32% of businesses still looking to drive further costs out  and the remaining 14% are contracting.  It appears that North Leinster (including Dublin) and the South East have the highest proportion of those seeking to reduce costs).
  • 65% of business leaders said they wanted banks to provide start-up packages, 44% want new banking products to drive business momentum, and 39% want banks to support their local town to drive business activity
  • While 55% of Irish businesses recruited new staff in the last five years, the largest proportion i.e. 42%, took place in 2013
  • 42% of businesses are planning to recruit more staff throughout 2014
  • In terms of new business or growth opportunities,
    • 31% see new technologies and a strong online presence  as key drivers of growth
    • 26% are looking to growth in the economy to drive their business
    • 20% are looking to new market opportunities to drive business expansion
  • 52% see new products/services and market expansion as key ambitions in 2014
  • 56% say being ‘your own boss’ is the most positive benefit attaching to owning your business
  • 78% say the ‘uncertainty of earnings’ is the single biggest down side of being their own boss

Speaking about the iReach research and National Enterprise Week, Gerry Prizeman, Head of Small Business and Agri, Bank of Ireland Business Banking said: “It’s great to see the growing level of optimism among Irish SME’s, which have long been regarded as the engine of the Irish economy.  At Bank of Ireland, we are lending to 500 small businesses and farmers every week across the country.  Our total approved lending to the SME and Agri sectors of €2.7bn to the end September 2013 , which was c. 5% ahead of approval levels in the same period during 2012. Over 80% of all loan applications to Bank of Ireland from SME’s are approved for credit.  While we’re not yet seeing a significant increase in overall demand for credit, the figures show an uplift in new lending approvals across the retail, manufacturing and property sectors. Bank of Ireland also continues to see a strong interest from the agriculture sector as farmers seek to consolidate land holdings and take advantage of both current land prices and availability.

“We want to be there to support Irish enterprise through the current challenging but improving economic environment – both by making credit available and by providing relevant supports to businesses and farmers to build momentum into 2014 The Bank continues to see a strong interest from the agriculture sector as farmers seek to consolidate land holdings and take advantage of both land prices and availability.

“Whilst the environment for SMEs has improved on the back of a number of positive indicators, this has yet to feed through into an increased demand for credit from SMEs at this time.  With the exception of certain sectors where we are seeing an uplift in new lending approvals such as retail, manufacturing and property, application levels remain similar to last year and it appears that businesses may be holding back from seeking increased working capital or purchasing additional stock until they can see that the positive growth and momentum in the economy is sustained over a longer period,” concluded Gerry Prizeman.

Michael Crowley, Senior Economist, Bank of Ireland said:  “A large proportion of SME’s are heavily exposed to the domestic economy, so the prospects for domestic demand, and consumer spending in particular, will have an important bearing on the fortunes of this sector. In this regard, the recent increase in employment, which is expected to continue into next year, bodes well for consumer spending. Rising employment will boost personal disposable incomes and thereby support spending in the economy. In addition, for those SMEs engaged in international trade, the recent pickup in activity in Ireland’s main trading partners, most notably in the UK, is another welcome development.

The 9th Bank of Ireland National Enterprise Week, themed ‘Building Business Momentum’, takes place throughout the country from Friday 15th to Friday 22nd November.  Key elements of the week include:

Show your business: Facilitating businesses to showcase their wares to the public in 250 Bank of Ireland branches nationwide – helping them to sell more products, make new contacts and network with other businesses that are facing similar challenges.

Speed Networking, Clinics & Mart visits: Providing entrepreneurs and business owners with the opportunity to have access to high level networking events and credit clinics which Bank of Ireland has been running throughout the country, bringing SMEs through the information and detail required to support their request for credit/lending facilities. During National Enterprise Week, Bank of Ireland will also be attending at a number of local marts across the country.

Conferences on Agri/Food and Tourism sectors: Bank of Ireland will host two major conferences in Kilkenny and Galway with business leaders from each field speaking on the topics.  Kilkenny’s conference , themed as ‘Agri and Food – Irish Growth Stories for 2014’ , will take place on Thursday 21 November in the Lyrath Hotel and will be addressed by Seamus Kearney,CEO of Valeo Foods, local entrepreneur James Brett of Brett Group and Justin McCarthy of the Irish Farmers Journal.  Galway’s Conference , themed as ‘Tourism – Building on Current Success Stories’,  will take place  in the Clayton Hotel on Friday 22 November,  will be addressed by Jim Miley, Project Director of The Gathering , John Crumlish, CEO of Galway Arts Festival and Joe Gilmore MD, Ireland West Airport Knock..   Richie Boucher, Group Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland will speak at both events.

Enterprise Town:  Harnessing the power of both the local business and wider community, we are working with Kells as Ireland’s first Bank of Ireland Enterprise Town.  A programme of events and activities is already underway to support and promote enterprise within the local economy and businesses, and we will be sharing the Kells experience to date during National Enterprise Week.