Northern Ireland

Small businesses in Northern Ireland report growth

Almost half of small businesses (46%) in Northern Ireland have increased sales in the past 12 months, a recent survey has revealed.

Ulster Bank’s Boost Index – which researched the growth performance of small firms (between five and 50 employees) in Northern Ireland – found that 21% of respondents claimed to be enjoying moderate growth. 

The survey across a range of sectors – including food and drink, technology, construction and retail – also revealed that 38% described their business as stable, while only 1% believed they were currently in a period of rapid growth.

The main obstacles to growth cited by respondents ranged from competition in the market (78%), the potential effect of Brexit (62%), a perceived lack of political stability in Northern Ireland (61%) and cost pressures (60%).

Research found that the biggest possible boost to growth prospects were less tax (65%), a better political environment (33%) and faster broadband (29%).

Exporting remains a big opportunity for small businesses.  

Just 7% were selling outside of the UK and Ireland, nearly a third (31%) said they were selling to the Republic of Ireland, while 18% said they were selling to England, Scotland and Wales. 

Lisa McCaul, business growth enabler at Ulster Bank, said: “Ulster Bank Boost has been created to help local businesses in a way that goes beyond traditional business banking. 

“We know that running any business comes with its own everyday challenges and growth plans are sometimes pushed down the priority list.

“This piece of research helps us understand where businesses are in terms of their growth trajectory and the challenges that they perceive to future growth. 

“This will be [a] useful insight as we seek to help small firms grow sustainably.”

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