BDO NI Advisory Partner, Michael Jennings, has been featured as part of Business Eye's Leaders Forum in the latest edition of it's magazine.
Along with other local business leaders, Michael was asked his opinion on his hopes (and fears) for businesses and the economy in Northern Ireland for 2022.
Following the recent relaxation of restrictions in Northern Ireland with improved levels of optimism amongst our local businesses, there are reasons to be hopeful as we move from a pandemic to an endemic in 2022.
A bounce in growth levels is anticipated as our businesses re-open and the economy moves towards a new normality. This will be very welcome for our retail and hospitality sectors who have worked hard to survive.
I remain hopeful that a positive outcome can be achieved in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which may provide Northern Ireland with a unique commercial advantage with access to GB and EU markets.
Our lifestyle changes in the past 2 years have provided our towns and cities with an opportunity to move to a work, play, live, and shop model, as workers now return with increased opportunities for agile working practices.
Some local businesses have continued to trade strongly during the past 2 years and their growth plans will benefit from a local funding market which is keen to do more.
There is also strong and growing demand in the M&A sector, as investors with access to cash seek to acquire profitable businesses and consolidation continues, as the prolonged period of uncertainty draws to a close.
Unfortunately, some businesses will continue to experience cash flow pressures. This will be caused by a combination of having to commence repayment of government backed loans and deferred tax balances, whilst meeting the funding requirements needed to grow performance back to full capacity. Labour shortages are also likely to remain a major challenge for some sectors.
Rising fuel and supply chain costs, inflation-driven price rises and the resulting pressure from staff for increased wages will also be challenges for local businesses to overcome throughout 2022.
Enforcement actions and insolvencies are likely to increase, following a 2-year period where enforcement has been prohibited.
In summary, 2022 provides the perfect opportunity for local businesses to apply the lessons they’ve learnt during the pandemic and take full advantage of growth opportunities in a recovering economy. We have learned how to appreciate our time and this year will see us re-align hybrid working with our professional lifestyles whilst building a successful and sustainable economy.
Michael Jennings, BDO NI Advisory Partner