Author Archives Jim

About Jim

James is a director with JCR Network Services Ltd, which provides sales, marketing and business development expertise to local SMEs in Ireland and the UK. Many businesses have developed their growth strategies through our focussed actions. We specialise in helping the agri-food , emerging technology, manufacturing and services sectors.

Rising Costs Slow Business Growth But Profitability Stable – InterTradeIreland

Posted by Jim on November 16, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Close to eight in 10 businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland are still stable or growing, but rising costs have slowed growth despite relatively buoyant sales and profits, according to the latest InterTradeIreland business monitor.

A third of businesses (34%) questioned for the study in Q3 said they were growing, compared to 44% that were stable and 21% that were in decline. In Q3 2021, 41% of businesses were in growth and 18% were in decline.

In the manufacturing sector, the slowdown has been quick, with just 32% of companies experiencing growth, down from 47% a year earlier, while the number of firms contracting has grown from 18% to 23%.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty in the wider economy – with rising inflation, interest rates and a volatile energy market,” said Martin Robinson, director of strategy at InterTradeIreland.

“The road ahead looks to have a number of caution signs for business. While the majority of firms that we speak to are in a stable position, the number in growth mode has dropped to just over a third, compared to 41% for the same period last year.”

Asked about sales compared to the previous quarter, 24% of firms said they had increased in Q3, compared to 56% that said they had remained the same and 19% that experienced a decline.

Looking ahead, respondents were somewhat pessimistic about the next six months, with just 18% expecting to grow sales and 22% expecting them to decline.

The leisure, hotels and catering sector was the most downbeat coming into the winter months, with 41% expecting sales to drop and 14% forecasting growth.

 

Some 29% of businesses in the construction sector expect sales to grow and 21% believe they will fall, while in manufacturing and production, 17% expect sales to rise and 25% have forecast decline.

“Our data shows us that 90% of firms have experienced a significant increase in their energy costs, and that is feeding through to nearly half experiencing a large increase in supplier costs, while 44% have experienced a substantial increase in transport costs,” said Robinson.

“In terms of Brexit, 27% of firms have reported it as an issue this quarter, compared to 35% of businesses in the previous quarter. Half of firms report that they have adapted in full or to a large extent to the changes brought about by Brexit.”

The survey shows 73% of firms have passed on price rises to their customers in the past 12 months and profitability remains more or less stable as a result. In fact, there was a 10-point increase in profitability between Q2 (56%) and Q3 (66%)

Respondents also reported that cost increases have not as yet impacted business and consumer confidence quarter-on-quarter, although it remains to be seen what will happen if firms continue to pass on price hikes as nine in 10 companies expect the rising costs of doing business to persist over the next 12 months.

“We know that businesses that trade cross-border, tend to be more robust. However, businesses across the island are operating against a difficult backdrop and their resilience continues to be tested,” Robinson concluded.

“There are a number of supports out there for firms, including from InterTradeIreland. We will continue to collaborate with partners and actively review our range of programmes to ensure we can help firms in the current challenging economic landscape.

To find out how we can assist your businesses and to avail of our wide range of initiatives please visit www.intertradeireland.com.

Companies who export cross border twice as likely to experience strong growth

Posted by Jim on September 21, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Data from InterTradeIreland’s latest Business Monitor survey (Q2 2022) reveals companies that export cross border are outperforming companies that do not, with 41 per cent enjoying rapid to moderate expansion. This is almost double compared to non-cross border traders (21 per cent).

Indeed, over three quarters of cross border traders (78 per cent) describe themselves as profitable compared to 51 per cent of firms that do not sell into the opposite jurisdiction.

Martin Robinson, Director of Strategy at InterTradeIreland, says that this is a recurring trend the business development body has tracked over the last six quarterly surveys.

“Despite the challenges SMEs face, on the whole, cross-border trade remains remarkably robust with a higher percentage of companies who export cross border reporting profitability, growth and increased sales compared to their non-cross-border trading counterparts,” says Martin.

“InterTradeIreland helps businesses identify cross-border opportunities and to explore their export potential through programmes such as Elevate and Acumen and have seen first-hand how a focus on reaching new markets can help enhance productivity and sales. Recent data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that cross-border trade in goods reached €7.65 billion in 2021 and continues to increase. In January-May 2022, Irish import trade with Northern Ireland has risen by another €356 million (23 per cent) and Irish exports to Northern Ireland have risen by €586 million (42 per cent), compared to the same period in 2021.”

On the whole, the latest figures from InterTradeIreland’s Business Monitor show that despite the unprecedented impact of rising costs, business performance overall is holding steady for now, with 83 per cent of companies across the island of Ireland in stable or growth mode, on a par with last quarter’s results (85 per cent).

There is a note of caution however for the leisure, hotel and catering sector which has experienced a more challenging time than most, with 42 per cent now experiencing a drop in sales compared to 23 per cent last quarter.

As expected, rising costs dominate business challenges once again as energy prices (86 per cent) and overheads (83 per cent) continue to be the top two issues impacting businesses, as they have been over the past six months.

Reassuringly the impact of Brexit (43 per cent) and Covid-19 (39 per cent) has declined as companies continue to adapt. However, almost half of businesses (46 per cent) now cite a difficulty in recruitment of appropriate skills as a key issue.

Looking at the data, Martin Robinson, InterTradeIreland’s Director of Strategy explains;

“As skills challenges become a significant issue, we are starting to see companies look at different ways to tackle shortages. 35 per cent for example have increased advertising while 29 per cent are retraining in-house. Innovation through exploiting digital technology is another area that could help firms create efficiencies. Our recently launched Business Solutions voucher provides support to businesses to explore the most effective ways of overcoming these ever-rising challenges.”

To find out more about InterTradeIreland’s support programmes, visit www.intertradeireland.com.

Registration now open for brand new Jobs and Training Fair set for St Comgall’s

Posted by Jim on August 04, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

 

Organized by Belfast Media, this is a must-attend event if you are starting your career, making a fresh start, returning to work, or even if you are an employer searching for new employees.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 15 from 1-6pm at the newly renovated St Comgall’s on the Falls Road.

We are delighted to have leading West Belfast manufacturer Huhtamaki on board as our headline sponsor.

There is an unprecedented demand for workers to fill vacancies in thousands of jobs across Belfast, from logistics to tech and from hospitality to healthcare.

As the availability of labour tightens, employers are reaching out not just to young people entering the labour market for the first time and to those who are interested in switching careers but also to those who are interested in working part-time or in returning to the world of work.

Companies from all sectors will set up shop in the refurbished school building — now one of Belfast’s premiere buildings — to spell out their job opportunities to jobseekers. Also invited to exhibit will be training bodies which offer skills development on the job.

With more and more employers offering the real living wage as a starting salary and appealing terms and conditions, this is a must-attend event for anyone keen to explore fresh opportunities in the job market.

For more details, please email Susan Donnan at s.donnan@belfastmedia.com.

Scotland Innovates!

Posted by Jim on August 01, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

 

We’re calling on suppliers and citizens to submit their innovative proposals. We aim to bring viable and approved innovations to market through a five-step process: registration, innovation submission, triage, assessment, and delivery.

All proposals will receive a response and feedback from a range of public sector experts. Viable and approved innovations will be guided to market, through provision of appropriate support and funding.

Home – Scotland Innovates (innovator.scot)

Public Contracts Scotland

Posted by Jim on August 01, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Attention all clients!

The launch of Scotland Innovates is an exciting new development in public sector innovation. A supplier led innovation portal, designed by a pan sector team opens the door to innovative ideas and solutions 

The Scotland Innovates Portal

The Scotland Innovates portal sits separate to Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) and contains useful guidance for innovators as well as news, events and case studies.

If you have an idea or solution that could improve public services in Scotland register and submit now at innovator.scot

Any queries relating to Scotland Innovates for the wider public sector should be directed to: ScotlandInnovates@gov.scot.

Any queries relating to Scotland Innovates for the Health Sector should be directed to: NSS.ScotlandInnovates@nhs.scot.

What is Scotland Innovates?

The Scotland Innovates service provides an easy to use, secure route to connect with the Scottish Public Sector and NHS Scotland.

Based on the principle of ‘push’ or supplier led innovation, the portal allows suppliers, citizens and innovators to register and submit ideas to improve or enhance public services.

Aiming to bring viable and approved innovations to market through a five step process:

  • registration
  • innovation submission
  • triage
  • assessment
  • delivery

Who’s involved?

This service has been developed as part of a collaborative project between Scottish Government Scottish Procurement and Property Directorate (SPPD) and National Services Scotland (NSS), working together with representatives from Scotland Excel, Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC), Scottish Enterprise and Civtech amongst others

Information & Support – Public Contracts Scotland

 

Business Solutions and Post-Brexit advice

Posted by Jim on June 10, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Man writing notes on tablet for webinar

As a service prover for InterTrade Ireland’s new Brexit support program we are pleased to advise it is not open for applications

If you require further information or guidance, please contact Sarah on 07709 872212

InterTradeIreland Business Solutions Voucher offers support ranging from £2,000/€2,250 up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT) of fully funded consultancy support to assist you in areas such as:

Bespoke Customs Training, Business Strategy, Innovation, Cross Border Employment and People and HR, Finance, VAT, Customs, Data, Regulation, Supply Chain Mapping and Logistics.

If you are a business that has queries please contact brexit@intertradeireland.com

Business Solutions | InterTradeIreland

Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2022

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2022  /   Posted in Blog
Grant aid for rural micro businesses of 50 per cent up to the value of £4,999 for the purchase of capital equipment to remain sustainable

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has launched the Rural Business Development Grant Scheme 2022. The scheme aims to provide grant funding to help rural micro businesses to sustain, develop and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scheme details

The grant will provide capital assistance of 50 per cent up to the value of £4,999 for the purchase of capital equipment to help rural businesses remain sustainable and recover from the ongoing pandemic. The grant funding will also provide the opportunity for some businesses to increase innovation activity as well as the efficiency of their rural businesses.

Find out more

The scheme will be delivered by local councils on behalf of DAERA. Application forms, guidance notes and further advice and information will be available from your local council.

Only online applications will be accepted for this scheme. The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Tuesday 31 May 2022.

InterTradeIreland Meet the Buyer event 2022

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Learn how you can access pipeline contracts and make new connections

 

Join InterTradeIreland on Wednesday 22 June at the Titanic Belfast for a day of insight and learning. Learn how you can access pipeline contracts valued at £60m+ and make connections with the decision makers in Translink.

What to expect from the event

  • 1-2-1 meetings with Translink’s key decision makers, business users and their primary contractors.
  • Meet the Translink Procurement Team and gain valuable insights around tendering for Translink contracts.
  • Meet with representatives from Dublin Bus & Iarnrod Eireann to hear about their business development activities.
  • Get advice and guidance on tendering and other business supports from InterTradeIreland, Invest NI and eTendersNI.
  • Engage and network with other suppliers and industry peers.

Who you will meet

You will meet with the following procurement category teams and key decision makers across the Translink Group:

  • Fleet & Engineering category – incorporating: Bus Engineering, Rail Engineering, Bus and Rail Systems & Operations.
  • Rail Infrastructure category – incorporating: Structures, Renewals, Permanent Way, Signalling & Telecoms.
  • Property & Estates category – incorporating: Property Works, Property Maintenance, Facilities Management.
  • Corporate Services category – incorporating: Marketing & Communications, Digital Comms/Design & Print, Human Resources, ICT & Ticketing, Health, Safety & Environment.

Primary contractors:

  • Wrightbus Ltd (bus fleet)
  • Farrans/Sacyr JV (construction – Belfast Transport Hub)
  • Babcock (permanent way and signalling & telecoms)
  • Cleary Contracting (construction)
  • Switch Mobility (bus fleet)
  • Volvo UK Ltd (bus fleet)
  • Graham (construction)
  • Adman Civil Projects FP McCann (construction)
  • McLaughlin & Harvey (construction)
  • Lowry Building & Civil Engineering (construction)
  • CAF SA (rail fleet)

Also attending are:

  • Dublin Bus
  • Iarnroad Eireann
  • Invest NI
  • eTendersNI (CPD)
  • VANRATH (permanent and temporary recruitment)
  • Hays (permanent and temporary recruitment)

Event information

The event will start at 08:45 with registration and networking opening at 08:00.

  • 08:00 – Registration, Networking & Refreshments
  • 08:45 – Opening Speeches Margaret Hearty, InterTradeIreland Chief Executive Paddy Anderson, Translink Chief Financial Officer Tricia Massey, Head of Group Procurement
  • 09:00 – Stands open
  • 09.10 – Workshops commence
  • 15:00 – Event Close

Find out more and book your place at the InterTradeIreland Meet the Buyer event 2022 in partnership with Translink.

First published 12 May 2022

New public procurement policy for Northern Ireland – social value scoring

Posted by Jim on May 16, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

bn_tender.pngSocial value to be scored in Northern Ireland government contracts from June 2022

The Department of Finance (DoF) has announced a new policy which will see mandatory scoring of social value within public procurement contracts.

The new policy mandates that from June 2022, tenders must include a minimum of 10 per cent of total award criteria to social value. This policy will apply to:

  • service contracts valued above £123,000 and
  • construction contracts valued above £4.7million

This accounts for approximately 97 per cent of total government procurement spending.

The minimum weighting will increase to 20 per cent from June 2023, subject to review and approval by the Executive.

What is social value?

Social value refers to wider financial and non-financial impacts on the well-being of individuals, communities and the environment.

Legally, social value outcomes can be included in the procurement process provided they are considered at the business case stage and relate to the contract’s subject matter or the performance of the contract.

Further information

There are videos available that provide background to social value and its scoring in Northern Ireland public sector contracts.

If you are bidding for public sector construction contracts – you can view the Scoring Social Value in Construction Contracts – Supplier Information Video.

If you are interested in bidding for public sector services or IT contracts – view the Scoring Social Value in Services/IT Contracts – Supplier Information Video.

First published 11 May 2022

What could a £5,000 Innovation Voucher do for your business?

Posted by Jim on May 11, 2022  /   Posted in Blog

Do you have an innovation project that could lead to the development of a new or improved product, service, business model, or process? Will it create value in your business, produce new profits or help grow the business? If so, then an Innovation Voucher could help support this.

How can an Innovation Voucher help my business?

£5K Innovation Vouchers allow businesses or potential entrepreneurs to get expertise from a public sector knowledge provider, such as a University or College (NI and ROI) for your innovation project.

** Please note that this programme does not involve the payment of any funds directly to participating businesses.**

Typical projects we support include:

  • Expertise to help create or improve products, services, business models or processes
  • Access to specialist expertise in new materials
  • Tapping into research and scientific expertise

Activities that are not eligible include:

  • Business plans, market research and financial planning
  • Website and app related activity
  • Marketing and sales activity
  • Training courses
  • Working with a private sector provider
  • Deadline for completed applications is 3pm on Friday 27 May 2022.Innovation Vouchers are available to early-stage and pre-trading entities as well as to established companies

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