Growth in sight but firms focused on costs

Dublin, 16 May 2013 - According to new research from Regus, the global workplace provider with business centres in Dublin and Cork, Irish firms’ top business priority for the second half of this year is “developing new business opportunities” although only a fifth plans an export drive or expansion into new geographical territories.

A highly encouraging sign is that “managing growth” is the second highest-rated priority cited by respondents. This chimes with research published by Regus last month showing that over half of Irish firms (56%) plan to increase headcount by at least 2% by the end of the year.

For one in three firms, “reducing fixed overheads” is a priority, highlighting the continuing role of cost control, especially in the context of managing growth.

Increased networking, building brand image, and improving their online presence are mentioned by around one in five companies as other important priorities, reflecting the importance of marketing in a tough business environment.

“Growth is finally on the way, with companies hiring again, but it is clear that for many Irish companies the key priority is still finding new business opportunities,” says Olivier de Lavalette, Regional Vice President for Ireland at Regus.

“It is surprising that more firms aren’t looking to new markets abroad, because firms with an international presence consistently outperform those focused solely on the domestic market.

“The drive to reduce fixed overheads is significant: firms know they mustn’t over-extend themselves at this crucial stage of recovery. In many cases, we see firms move from permanent, fixed workspace to an on-demand model, allowing them to be more scalable and keep overheads to a minimum. They can then focus on making their business a success and not tying up cash on inflexible leases.”

Donal O’Brien, MD of Dublin’s Abrivia Recruitment is a firm advocate of the flexible approach to managing growth. “It’s vital to keep overheads low, and since we started in 2006 the market has been so unpredictable that traditional premises would have been a major burden.

“You also have to be able to upsize quickly, and in Regus’ Harcourt Road centre we just move to a bigger office down the corridor when we need to, with none of the headaches of having to move our IT infrastructure.”

He adds, “2013 looks set to be a very positive year. Business confidence is improving, we have already received 27% more job orders than this time last year and we have hired four new people in the last month and a half alone.”