Business leaders conference at Lyrath

Mary Cody

Reporter:

Mary Cody

Pictured at the PwC Business Leaders Conference themed 'Decisions 2014' are Henry Shefflin; Siobhan Collier, PwC Kilkenny, Sam McCauley, Founder, Sam McCauley Chemists and  Billy Sweetman, Partner, PwC. Photo: Pat Moore.
PwC hosted it’s 2013 Business Leaders conference themed ‘Decisions 2014’ at Lyrath today which was attended by over 100 local business leaders.

PwC hosted it’s 2013 Business Leaders conference themed ‘Decisions 2014’ at Lyrath today which was attended by over 100 local business leaders.

The conference will explore how successful organisations adapt to the challenges and opportunities of growth within their industry and what decisions are needed to ensure the right ‘blueprint’ is in place to be fit for the future.

With emerging signs of growth, PwC’s research shows that many business leaders are now feeling more positive about future prospects for their organisations and the economy. Irish companies have a huge opportunity to expand in the new growth economies, for example China, Brazil and South America. At the same time, with the level of US investment here continuing to be strong, there is plenty of scope for further expansion at home, for example, to service this growing FDI sector. While the trend is on the right path, both nationally and internationally, this is not without challenges. As a small open economy, Ireland is hugely dependent on external markets and Ireland’s recovery will depend on the extent of growth in the economies with which we trade.

Addressing the audience, guest speaker, Sam McCauley, Chairman, Sam McCauley Chemists, commented: “For businesses to thrive you should not be afraid to move into new areas. Businesses need to embrace new ideas to survive and grow. What worked five years ago, generally, will not work today. You need to work smarter and move in new directions. Firstly, ensure you have constant diversification. This involves broadening your revenue streams, innovating your product mix as well as your markets and looking at any opportunities for ownership of brands which can then be leveraged for growth nationally and internationally,” he said.

He also advised delegates toembrace the digital age and focus on the opportunities that the internet and social media can bring. “This takes investment and you may need to engage external consultants. Expanding your web offering to a world class site will open up global business opportunities. Finally, really engage your people, know who your best people are and promote from within where possible. In this way you will have the right skills for the long term,” he added.

Billy Sweetman, Partner, PwC South-East Region, said: “As the economy moves to a renewed growth phase, businesses need to be mindful not to expand too quickly. Firms should be very careful about taking on too many orders. Businesses should firstly discuss their situation with their professional advisors, to get an independent review and recommendations for their businesses and this will enable them to then engage with their banks. Communication with financial institutions is vital.”

Speaking about Ireland’s economy, Austin Hughes, Chief Economist, KBC Bank Ireland, said: “We are now seeing clear signs of an upturn in the Irish economy. However, with the global economy still fragile, companies will need to be very nimble if they are to use ‘first improver advantage’ to build stronger businesses in the coming year.”

Ronan Furlong, Tax Partner, PwC South-East Region, said: “There is a revolution going on in Global Taxation at the moment where the tax principles which have governed cross border trade for the last almost 100 years are under examination. This is most seen in the OECD’s BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) plan which is progressing at a much speedier pace than usual for OECD plans. For the issues which the OECD is examining, Ireland is in quite good shape from a tax perspective and there may be benefits if some FDI companies decide to align their IP, which generally is offshore, with their business activities which are here in Ireland”.

Martin Freyne concluded by pointing out that as the economy returns to growth, there is an opportunity now for businesses to take a hard look at their business models to ensure they have the right ‘blueprint’ for the future.