Good neighbours: UK remains the critical pathfinder for ambitious Irish exporters

While our new trading relationship with our closest neighbour has caused some challenges for Irish companies, the UK undoubtedly remains a critically important market for Irish industry, and an important first export market.

Marina Donohoe, regional director UK, with Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy

In fact, at Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week last week, one of Ireland’s biggest annual business events, new exporters and start-ups comprised two thirds of the Irish companies meeting with the organisation’s team of UK market advisers.

Despite evident challenges, this market is still hugely attractive to Irish exporters.

It’s not surprising, when we consider that the UK and the Nordic markets collectively accounted for €9.6bn of global exports from Enterprise Ireland-supported companies in 2021. That represented 35pc of all exports from Enterprise Ireland-supported companies last year, and an increase of €1.38bn on the previous year.

Despite the additional trading complexities since Brexit, it’s clear that the UK remains the dominant market for many of the companies supported by Enterprise Ireland.

It remains a crucial market for companies to scale in and to use as a stepping-stone to further export markets. One key reason for that is the strong reputation of Irish companies in Britain, and the resilience and agility they’ve shown in the face of recent challenges.

As we build on the strong links that have been in place between our countries for centuries, we’re also seeing a new generation of exporters across sectors such as digital technologies, renewable energy and modular construction.

Likewise, in London, which remains the financial services capital of Europe, Irish companies specialising in digital finance and payment technology have an impressive reputation in this highly regulated industry.

Consumer retail is another thriving sector for Irish companies exporting to the UK, with brands such as Therapie, Max Benjamin, Pestle & Mortar and Gym+Coffee well established there.

And in recent weeks, the hugely popular Irish beauty brand Sculpted by Aimee also launched in Boots stores across the UK.

We’re also seeing more and more Irish exporters who appreciate the value of starting their UK operations in cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, and scaling from there. In these locations in particular, they benefit from long-standing relationships between the cities and Ireland.

Throughout the UK, Irish companies employ 117,000 people, making an important economic impact in their nearest market. Enterprise Ireland has expanded its team in the UK in recent years, opening a new office in Manchester in 2018 and planning to expand our footprint to Scotland in 2023.

Exports to the Nordics from Enterprise Ireland-supported companies are also growing rapidly, and have risen from €500m in 2015 to €1.24bn in 2021.

While there is a preconception in Ireland that these markets (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) are expensive and difficult to access, once companies start to do business in the region, they find it is much more accessible than they initially thought.

Source:  Independent.ie

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