An increasing number of Cork firms are optimistic about the future, with many planning to open new premises this year, but the majority feel the government is not doing enough for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

These were among the insights delivered at a breakfast event in the Clarion Hotel Cork last week by telecom provider Magnet.

Local businesses heard the findings from one of Ireland’s largest pieces of SME research, the Magnet Regional Business Barometer, a nationwide study of 540 firms conducted by Amárach Research in January of this year.

Covering business, political, economic and technology topics, the research provided interesting insights around business in the South West:

  • 70% of small firms in Cork and Kerry are optimistic about the future, up from 57% this time last year.
  • 1 in 5 SMEs hopes to open new premises in 2016, a spectacular increase on last year when only 1 in 14 talked of such plans.
  • Finding candidates with the right skills was cited as a key issue for 51% of businesses in Cork and Kerry – making it a much greater concern here than in any other region of the country.
  • There is much dissatisfaction around the government’s support of SMEs, with 64% of firms surveyed contending that the government isn’t doing enough for business owners in the SME sector – ahead of the national average of 62%.
  • Providing access to grants, funding or loans and reducing costs to the sector in the form of lower taxes, rent, travel and childcare costs were cited as the main ways in which the government could help SMEs. However, a massive 88% of firms in Cork are unaware of what business or technology grants were available to them.
  • Businesses in Cork and Kerry are more likely to embrace remote and mobile working than firms elsewhere in the country: 53% of companies have employees working on the road, while 63% have employees regularly working from home.

“At the start of last year, the SMEs surveyed were optimistic but cautious: they wanted to see the proof of recovery before committing to any investment – whether staff, IT or new premises,” said Gerard O’Neill, Chairman of Amárach Research.

“Our survey aims to shine a light on what’s important to businesses in Cork and find out what has changed from year to year.”

“12 months later, most SMEs have the proof they need to go ahead with their expansion plans. There’s no doubt this shift in outlook and intentions will contribute to further growth in our economy over the rest of 2016”.

“Our survey aims to shine a light on what’s important to businesses in Cork and find out what has changed from year to year,” said Mark Kellett, CEO of Magnet.

“We were particularly impressed with the amount of businesses that plan to open new premises this year compared to last year – a good indicator of a buoyant business environment. Often this is an ideal time to review existing service provider offerings and negotiate better deals to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

“We at Magnet are acutely aware that business costs are top of the list of concerns for many, and continually strive to offer the most cost-competitive and best value business telecoms solutions on the market. ”

One such solution is Magnet’s Office-in-a Box. Aimed at small businesses of up to 5 people it delivers an enterprise-level telecom services for a single fixed monthly charge of €165.99 without the heavy upfront costs.

As well as unlimited calls to Irish, UK & USA landlines and mobiles and up to 100Mb broadband, it includes a cloud PBX phone system, which delivers many benefits for today’s modern mobile workforce. More information can be found on