Sunday, June 14, 2009

Developing Irish Export markets; Easier said than done

Ireland has no future in low-cost manufacturing and cash-strapped companies should focus their business efforts on exports and trade with new world economies, the head of Enterprise Ireland said this week.

A new generation of Irish companies with international links involved in the smart economy were making healthy profits, Enterprise Ireland chief executive Frank Ryan said.

Ryan told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Dáil that the way forward for businesses was through the smart economy, leaving behind an old industrial era.

"There’s no future in low-cost manufacturing," he added.

There were small companies with links to technology and computing making turnovers of over €50 million, he said.

Ryan added that businesses needed to target new economies like Brazil, India, China and Russia among countries. It's all easier said than done.

Irish SMEs haven't had a tradition of exporting and while 55% of total exports from Ireland in 1973, the year of entry to the European Economic Community, went to the UK, more than 50% of exports from Irish-owned firms still go to the UK.

Irish Economy: Home Truths on Irish Exports as Ireland faces a changed global economy in the decade ahead

Waterford Glass

When Tony O'Reilly headed Heinz, he often spoke about the importance of creating world recognised Irish brands and then put a lot of money into Waterford, which had more than 3,000 employed in the 1970's.

A combination of poor management; changing consumer tastes and cost structure, doomed the enterprise.

John Foley, chief of the Waterford Crystal unit, said in 2007 that the group employed 1,300 staff in Indonesia for the same wage costs as 90 staff in Britain, itself a cheaper labour market than Ireland.

Even after the industry had died in the 1850's, the craftmanship of the renowned glassmakers of Bohemia, was brought to Waterford in 1947 by Charles Bacik, grandfather of Senator Ivana Bacik, and the old brand was revived.

It is not easy to create a significant brand in a market such as the US and it would be foolish for Ireland to leave the Waterford brand die.

Louis Vuitton bags may be made in China or all but the design of the iPod is Asian, but consumers view them as French and American products.

Receiver appointed to Irish operations of Waterford Wedgwood; Glass making in Waterford dates from 1783; Czech immigrant Charles Bacik revived industry in 1947

The Irish Economy Blog featured a story on the US PBS Wide Angle film on the demise of Waterford Glass: