Regus study reveals Irish firms still favour Europe
A new report published by Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces, shows that Europe remains the most profitable market for Irish exporters, despite ongoing economic instability.
68% of Irish firms that trade overseas say that Europe is their preferred overseas target; followed by China, North America and the Middle East. It is noticeable that small businesses favour Europe more strongly and fewer are targeting the emerging markets.
The poll also canvassed opinion in relation to the perceived barriers to overseas trade.
Nearly two thirds (63%) of Irish firms says paperwork and property costs are the biggest obstacles to setting up a physical presence abroad, followed by building an image (52%) and managing local taxation and regulation (36%). Recruiting suitable staff – at both operational and senior management levels – also emerged as a significant issue for many firms.
Olivier de Lavalette, Regional Vice President for Ireland at Regus, comments: “The Irish Business and Employers Confederation predicts that export will play a key role in Irish economic growth this year, and we know from our million customers globally that exporters report healthier profits than domestic firms.
“Our research shows that the majority of Irish firms are sticking to Europe when they expand overseas. However this is starting to change. There is an increasing desire to trade with the emerging markets; in fact the demand for workplace support is such that we have now expanded our own presence to 99 countries across the globe, most recently in Rwanda and Cambodia.
“Usually firms’ top priority is to keep operations as flexible as possible, especially in markets outside Europe. No business owner wants to overcommit in countries where their rate of growth and success is unpredictable. For this reason a popular approach is using a Virtual Office, giving a local presence overnight with minimal outlay and risk. Ultimately, the less time and money a company can spend on property and leases, the more it can plough into making its business a success.”
Event Elephant, based in the Regus centre in Ballsbridge, Dublin, are one example of an Irish firm looking to extend their presence overseas. The company provides event organisers – from parties, launches, conferences to major music festivals – with websites and secure platforms to sell tickets online.
Ron Downey, Managing Director, comments: “We’re looking to establish a presence in several overseas locations, including the US, Australia, Canada and South Africa. Knowing that there are Regus centres in all these locations is handy as it means we’ll be able to minimise the overheads and risks associated with setting up a presence in another country.”
 Quarterly Economic Outlook, The Irish Business and Employers Confederation, January 2013