Soaring inflation dented the performance of Northern Ireland business but the vast majority are still growing or, at the very least, stable.
Those are the findings from the last survey by cross-border agency InterTradeIreland which compiled the opinions of more than 750 business managers from across the island, concluding that companies were in better shape than first imagined.
Around 90% of businesses on both sides of the border reported that they were either in growth mode or holding steady in the last quarter of 2022, with around a third reporting strong growth. The robust performance comes despite the inflationary environment many are operating in, with high energy costs and other overheads the main challenge for businesses.
Businesses in both jurisdictions with export sales are experiencing the highest rate of expansion, with half enjoying growth. Cross-border traders continue to have higher profit margins than their non-exporting peers. A third of businesses that trade cross-border on the island says gains fall in the higher profit brackets of 10 percent and over, compared to just over a quarter of non-exporters.
Martin Robinson, InterTradeIreland’s Director of Strategy, said the results reveal a relatively positive picture, but warned against over optimism.
“This is the largest survey of its type and last quarter we saw a positive increase across the key indicators,” he said. “However, I would not be rolling out the red carpet to welcome economic recovery just yet.
“We must bear in mind that it is against a complicated economic and geopolitical backdrop. We need to see the results for the next quarter or two to get a better sense of whether this may be the start of a sustained uplift.”
He urged more companies to consider trading across the border.
“We see the persistent challenges that businesses contend with, and at InterTradeIreland we are very focused on working with firms to help them find solutions. We know that trading across the border can be a significant step for SMEs to help them grow their business. The latest figures from the Irish Central Statistics Office show that businesses in Northern Ireland enjoyed almost £5 billion in goods sales to Ireland during 2022. I would encourage any firm that needs advice on how to take that first step to sell cross-border to contact InterTradeIreland.”
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