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Irish family businesses crucial for recovery

By Giulia Cambieri

Four out of 10 family businesses in Ireland want to increase their workforce in the next year and a further 42% intend to maintain current levels of employment, according to a study by financial advisory firm KPMG.

The research, which was based on a survey of 300 family firm owners, also found that 73% of Ireland’s family-owned companies diversified their products and services during the country's economic downturn.

However, according to the study, despite Irish exports growing by about 8% in the first six months of 2011, 68% of Ireland’s family businesses did not increase their level of exports in the past 12 months.

This suggests that “there remains untapped export potential amongst many indigenous businesses”, said KPMG partner Mike Gaffney in a statement.

“The survey combination of relative jobs stability, export potential and diversification suggests strong global possibilities for some established businesses. The survey message for all, including government, is to look to long-term investment in Irish companies with major global brand potential and to support their expansion rather than sell up early before the potential is realised,” he added.