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65pc of exporting SMEs see sales growth

Tuesday, June 24 11:30:37

A new survey today found that 65pc of Irish SMEs expect to increase their export sales this year with a further 40pc planning to hire staff to cope with this growth.

The latest Exports Outlook Report, commissioned by AIB in association with the Irish Exporters Association, Bord Bia and IPSOS MRBI also found that 30pc of SMEs plan to export to new markets in 2014.

Along with the report, AIB also announced the establishment of a specialist nationwide team to assist SME exporters as well as a E200 million fund to support exporting companies.

Reflecting positive growth expectations, 30pc of SMEs contacted in the survey confirm that they are planning to export to new countries this year, with 86pc engaging in export-enhancing strategies. Among these companies, the US is cited as the top destination (27pc), followed by Germany (16pc) and France (13pc). In the year ahead, 46pc of companies expect their exports to increase on last year.

AIB's Head of Business Banking, Ken Burke, said the research clearly demonstrates the potential for major export growth amongst SMEs. AIB is firmly focused on being the bank of choice for exporters and is launching a series of key initiatives in support.

"Against the backdrop of improved business performance in 2013, it is important that AIB supports SMEs as they continue to build in existing markets and identify additional export opportunities. The research suggested that banks needed to do more for exporters and have a better understanding of exporting. With this in mind, AIB has set up a team of 85 Export Finance Champions across the country to specifically assist exporting businesses and we have established a E200m fund to support the funding requirements of exporting companies. We are also helping to support exporting customers in the key area of logistics in overseas markets by partnering with DHL. A key element of the partnership will be the provision of a 50pc discount on DHL Express standard tariffs for international shipping for all AIB exporting customers for 12 months," he said.

CEO of the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), Simon McKeever CEO, said exporting is the lifeblood of the Irish economy driving growth, innovation and employment.

"Our own data supports some of the findings of this report showing that a strong majority of exporters expect further growth in exports this year and that they are continuing to target new markets and develop new products and services as a result. The Irish Exporters Association welcomes and backs this initiative taken by AIB in building capacity and capability around supporting Irish exporters, and this undertaking and the appointment of 85 Export Finance Champions should go some long way in helping the bank to understand the needs of Exporters. However access to finance remains an issue for many exporting SME's and we need to see this engagement delivering more funds to these companies," he said.

Bord Bia's Director of Markets, Michael Murphy, said: "Food and drink companies are optimistic to build on the E10 billion exports achieved in 2013. Global demand is growing strongly. It is great to see AIB committing additional resources both human and financial to help SMEs realise this opportunity."

AIB is also today announcing a number of initiatives to support exporting SMEs.

The establishment of a team of 85 Export Finance Specialists located nationwide. These specialists will provide export customers, with a local expert who will provide practical export information, and access to teams of product specialists within Treasury, Trade Finance and Commercial Finance.

The launch of a E200 million SME Export Finance Fund. This will support the provision of multiple export finance products including working capital and loan finance for Irish exporters.

Partnership with DHL to support exporters international logistics requirements to overseas markets. This will include a 50pc discount on DHL Express standard tariffs for international shipping for 12 months for all AIB exporting customers.