Irish business sentiment improved through the spring of 2017 as the Irish economy has thus far defied fears of a marked slowdown while companies report ongoing and healthy growth in their own activity levels.
This is according to the latest KBC Bank/Chartered Accountants Ireland business sentiment survey which reflects the view of Chartered Accountants working in senior positions (CEOs, MDs and FDs) in Ireland’s leading companies.
The Spring 2017 survey was conducted from 28th March to 3rd April 2017 and the results presented are based on 352 completed responses.
Some 31% of firms noted that Sterling weakness was already having an adverse effect on their business while 13% indicated it was having a positive effect. In this way, the survey highlights the complex nature of our economic links with the UK and underscores the major risks in a ‘one approach fits all’ policy in relation to Brexit even at the sectoral level.
The survey revealed significant differences in companies’ understanding of the implications of Brexit for their businesses. Just 21% of companies believe they have a strong sense of the consequences of Brexit for their activities. While a further 53% of companies report they have some sense of what Brexit might mean for their operations, a substantial 26% say they have little sense of what it will mean for them.
The KBC Bank/Chartered Accountants Ireland business sentiment index climbed to 110.6 in spring 2017 from 104.6 in the previous quarter. This marks the third successive increase in the index following a sharp likely Brexit related weakening last summer.
As major uncertainty persists in regard to the global and indeed the domestic economic outlook, producer confidence remains some way below the levels seen in late 2015 (131.1), but the spring survey shows Irish business sentiment is now on an improving trajectory.
Commenting on the results, Chartered Accountants Ireland Chief Executive, Pat Costello said, "The survey suggests 2017 has started positively for Irish business with broadly based improvements in activity and employment. While the pace of growth has eased slightly and firms remain cautious about an uncertain environment, early 2017 has been notably less difficult than they had envisaged. The rise they are seeing in their own business volumes, allied to better than expected news on the broader Irish economy, is now translating into improving confidence."