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Ulster Bank research identifies boosts to growth prospects for Northern Ireland small businesses

Less tax, a better political environment and faster broadband would be among the biggest boosts to the growth prospects of Northern Ireland’s small businesses, new research from Ulster Bank suggests.

Ulster Bank's Boost Index researched the growth performance of local firms with between five and 50 employees across a range of sectors – including food & drink, technology, construction and retail.

The research found that small businesses in Northern Ireland are currently in relatively good health, with almost half (46%) having increased sales in the past 12 months. More than one-fifth of firms (21%) said that they are experiencing moderate growth and 38% described their business as stable. Just 1% of respondents said that they were currently experiencing rapid growth.

Major obstacles to growth include competition in the market (78%), the potential impact of Brexit (62%), a perceived lack of political stability in Northern Ireland (61%) and cost pressures (60%).

When it comes to identifying the biggest potential boosts to growth prospects, 65% of respondents agreed that less tax would provide a boost, 33% pointed to a better political environment, and 29% felt that faster broadband would be a significant assistance.

Exporting also appears to be a big opportunity for small firms to avail. Just 7% of those surveyed said that they are currently selling outside of the UK and Ireland. 31% said that they are selling into the Republic of Ireland, and 18% said that they are selling into England, Scotland or Wales.

The findings of the study were released today to launch Ulster Bank’s new Boost initiative to support small business growth through events, access to insight, expertise and networking opportunities. The research, carried out by Perceptive Insight in June 2017, involved over 200 telephone interviews with the owners or directors of companies.

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 useful insight as we seek to help small firms grow sustainably.”

For more information on the Boost initiative visit the Ulster Bank website.

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