The majority of businesses (64%) surveyed during a KPMG webinar yesterday entitled ‘Getting Beyond the Crisis – Strategies for Irish Business’ expect their businesses to recover within one year and a further 31% within two years. Just 5% of respondents said they expect the recovery of their business to take more than two years. Those surveyed also opted for zero rated VAT as the preferred measure to assist businesses heavily impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. This aligns with KPMG’s own recent submission to Government which outlined a number of suggested strategies for Ireland’s economic recovery, in what will undoubtedly be a difficult period for Irish business in the short to medium term.
The webinar was attended by over 240 senior executives from a broad range of business sectors, including retail, food, real estate, financial services, construction, healthcare, medtech and telecoms.
Guest speaker at the event was Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec, who was joined on the panel by KPMG partners Michele Connolly, David O’Kelly and Owen Lewis. Seamus Hand, KPMG Managing Partner, welcomed the audience to the event saying “We have, as a business community, already played a significant role in managing the crisis. The very act of closing our doors, and working from home for those of us who could, has contributed to minimising the impact of the pandemic on these shores. We are thankfully now in a better and more stable place and can now get beyond the crisis to focus on the revival of what was and can be a strong Irish economy.”
The majority of those surveyed, 67%, also believe their business model will be permanently changed as a result of the pandemic and 88% of those surveyed said they plan to increase investment in digitalisation as a result of the COVID-19 experience, with 36% saying they expect this investment to increase significantly.
The business audience attending the webinar were also asked whether the COVID-19 economic impact would influence their organisation’s decarbonisation strategy with a strong majority (85%) remaining committed to the sustainability agenda. 43% said they would speed up implementation, while 42% said it would not change their strategy and only 15% said it would delay implementation.
Speaking at the event, Danny McCoy, CEO, Ibec, said “This could be a relatively shallow recession for Ireland. I expect a real surge in the second half of the year if we can get consumer confidence back. Ireland has been generationally involved in globalisation over the years and I believe we will be able to double down on our existing advantages. Companies are here because it’s a good business proposition and they will stay as long as that continues. If there is one thing that comes out of the pandemic that would be a real benefit, it would be greater use of public private partnerships. We need business leaders to lead the social dialogue in that regard. It’s not like the social partnership which we had before. We need to find ways of channelling money from the private to the public sector to deliver the housing and public services that people require.”
Speaking after the event, Michele Connolly, KPMG Partner and Head of Corporate Finance, said “We can see from our survey results that most businesses are confident they will recover within a year, which is very encouraging. However they will need access to capital to do that. It will be critical therefore in the period ahead, as consumer confidence hopefully returns, to have strong supports in place for business that are accessible and deployed quickly. This menu of supports is needed as businesses reassess and restructure their route to market and cost base, both of which will change. Accelerating the pathways for business to access capital, and Government accelerating investment to enable growth and unblock the bottlenecks, such as housing, broadband, etc., will also be key to re-energising the economy and forging a pathway out of recession.”