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InterTradeIreland Q2 Business Monitor: 83% of Firms Stable or Growing

InterTradeIreland’s Q2 Business Monitor Report: 83% of firms across the island either stable or growing as all-island recovery continues but at a slower pace.

Recovery continues

InterTradeIreland’s latest quarterly Business Monitor (April – June 2015) has highlighted that 83% of businesses on both sides of the border are either stable or growing, which is down five percentage points from Q1. It also reflects that firms are continuing to experience recovery across the island, albeit at a slower pace than in recent quarters.

Northern Ireland firms in growth mode catching up with Ireland

Over the last few quarters, businesses in Ireland were clearly outperforming local NI firms but figures from the Q2 report indicated more of a convergence between the two jurisdictions, with 40 per cent of firms in the Republic in growth mode compared to 36 per cent of businesses in Northern Ireland.

Larger firms driving recovery

Recovery is in place for the majority of firms, but this is happening relatively slowly with less forward motion shown this quarter. InterTradeIreland took the opportunity with the Q2 report to look at what type of firms are driving growth and what they are doing differently or better. Although moderate to rapid growth was found in businesses of all sizes, types and sectors, it was especially prevalent among larger firms.

Exporting and innovation important factors

The report confirmed that those firms that are exporting and those who take a more strategic approach to growth, such as having a formal business plan in place, were more successful. It was shown that three-quarters of moderate to rapid growth firms introduced new or improved products or services and 62 per cent implemented new processes, machinery, equipment or tools, showing that businesses that are innovating and doing things differently are three times more likely to grow.

Excellence in innovation processes, culture and skills is at the core of rapidly growing firms with these businesses more likely to have dedicated R&D staff and a more formal process in place for managing innovation than non-growth firms.

More than half of firms have the ambition to expand

53% of non-growth firms share the ambition to expand, but need support from agencies such as InterTradeIreland to help them take advantage of cross border opportunities allowing them to overcome specific capability deficiencies in areas identified by the study and translate that ambition into reality.

It is vital that business momentum picks up more quickly if the Executive is to achieve its economic objective of rebalancing the economy. However, when you look back to this time two years ago, progress has definitely been made with only 64 per cent of businesses stable and growing back in Q2 2013.

InterTradeIreland’s Business Monitor

InterTradeIreland’s quarterly Business Monitor survey is the largest and most comprehensive business survey on the island and is based on the views of more than 750 business managers across Northern Ireland and Ireland. It differs from other surveys in that it is seen to be the ‘voice of local businesses’ feeding directly from telephone interviews conducted with a robust sample of firms of all sizes across a range of sectors to track all-island economic indicators such as sales, employment, business outlook and other specific topical research areas on a quarter by quarter basis.

Further information

For more information on InterTradeIreland and their business support programmes, please visit

A video and copy of the 2015 Q2 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Executive Summary can be viewed here.

Post by Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director at InterTradeIreland

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