Wednesday, July 30 11:54:37
Hardware merchants across the country are seeing an improvement in business activity for the first time since the onset of the recession.
But the differences across the country are striking. In Dublin 68pc of merchants reported an improvement as against 43pc in Connaught/Ulster.
In a survey of Hardware Association Ireland (HAI) members carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes, 52pc of merchants reported a better performance in the past 12 months, almost double the figure recorded 12 months previously when only 27pc reported an improvement.
HAI members are more positive about the year ahead than they were in 2013, with 56pc expecting business will be higher in the next 12 months, against 30pc this time last year.
There are also fewer hardware merchants seeking financial support from lending institutions and fewer receiving the required support. Just 13pc applied to lending institutions for funding over the past 12 months with 60pc being successful. A year earlier, 21pc sought financial support and 75pc were successful.
Both short-term and long-term finance provided the rationale for application, with funding for short-term loan (55pc), long-term loan (45pc) and overdraft (30pc) topping the list.
Commenting on the survey, HAI President Patrick Kelly said: “While it is encouraging to see the first signs of an uplift in activity in our sector, it is from a low level due to the harsh trading conditions that have existed since around 2008. And there is a clear need to rebalance economic activity with a greater focus on rural Ireland. While there is a need to stimulate consumer spending nationally, there is also an imperative to energise rural economic conditions with the inevitable benefit of increasing employment."
“In terms of the future, we are seeing a level of measured optimism evident across the sector. Hardware businesses are more positive about the year ahead than they were in 2013, with 56pc expecting business will be higher in the next 12 months, against 30pc who expressed that view 12 months ago. But there is a marked difference in confidence between Dublin/Rest of Leinster (68pc) and the rest of the country (46pc)."
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