Dermot Corrigan

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Archive for June, 2007

Big ad campaign to attract recruiters

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Sunday Business Post – Recruitment – June 24 2007

Recruitment agency HRM has launched a €100,000 advertising campaign to source 30 new recruitment consultants for its HRM Executive Recruitment and Top People divisions.

The ‘Standing Out’ campaign will include the website, press advertisements and ads placed on commuter boards on the DART and LUAS lines in Dublin. It will run for an initial four-week period and will be repeated at intervals over the next year.

“Really good recruiters are extremely difficult to find,” said HRM managing director Michael O’Leary. “They are highly skilled people, and they do not always know that. Wherever they are working right know they are not necessarily in a position to apply the inherent traits that they have.”

O’Leary said that in the recruitment world professional qualifications and experience were not always the most relevant requirements.

“One of the assumptions that people have is that you have to come from a HR background to work in recruitment and that is not the case at all,” he said. “Recruitment is a very different type of career than HR. Wherever possible, we look for people from the sectors in which they are going to be recruiting. For example we like our accountancy recruiters to be coming from accountancy backgrounds, our IT people to be qualified or have worked in IT.”

O’Leary said that relationship building is now key to business success in the recruitment sector.

“If you look back at the late nineties the recruitment industry in Ireland grew on the back of an extremely rapid job creation period, largely but not exclusively in ICT,” he said.

“When those jobs began to disappear the industry went through quite a shakeout. Today the dynamic of growth is very different, and at its core it is a change in behaviour in the customer. Companies are far more likely to look to a supplier with whom they have a relationship when they are looking to recruit talent.”

The recruitment environment in Ireland is now very similar to that in Britain.

“It is becoming much more like the UK market where virtually everybody works in some form of partnership with a recruitment company,” said O’Leary.

“Most of the larger organisations annually put out bids for their recruitment and the recruiters work far more up the food chain than ten years ago. Right from when the vacancy has been identified they help to shape what the role can be, agree a path to get that filled and work right through the process.”

“We are working on understanding the needs of our customers, in terms of additional support post the placement, providing the client with data on the marketplace and their competitors, predicting likely vacancies in the future and making the recruitment process much smoother for the client.”

O’Leary founded HRM in 1992. It employs 80 people at its offices in Dublin and it operates across two distinct brands, HRM Executive Recruitment and and Top People.

“HRM is very much an executive recruiter,” said O’Leary. “We try and build relationships with companies so we can fill all of their mid to senior management needs. Top People is a business that we bought a couple of years ago and re-branded. It is an office and commercial support business that also works in retail and hospitality.”

O’Leary said that HRM generally works in the salary band from €40,000 up to €200,000 and Top People fills positions with annual salaries in the €25,000 to €60,000 range.

O’Leary said the career development of HRM staff was a key business objective for the company.

“We have a formal career planning path, which is fairly unique in class,” said O’Leary. “New people coming into the business initially learn lifelong value skills in negotiating, influencing, judgement and customer relationship building. We are rolling out specific career development paths in people management, account customer management and high end search and selection and supporting each vein with specific training modules.”

O’Leary said a strategic review of HRM’s business was undertaken in 2003, which led the company to re-evaluate its internal processes and prepare for the expansion which is currently under way.

“We worked out that if we were to grow in a truly differentiated way we needed to behave like a big business,” he said. “In the last 12 months we have restructured the business into functional support areas and are now putting the business managers at the centre of everything we do. Every functional resource supports the business managers, whether in customer acquisition, marketing, finance, business systems, customer relationship building or HR.”

HRM operates in all sectors of the Irish labour market. It has eleven selection teams, each concentrating on a particular area.

“We would be very interested in taking HRM as a brand to Scotland and maybe some of the smaller cities within England,” said O’Leary. “We think Top People is the business to look towards Eastern Europe.”

Plans are already in place to expand the Top People brand in Ireland.

“We are now opening up Dublin North in three months time and Dublin South in the new year,” he said. “We have appointed a separate MD, Raelene Pugh, whose target is to take it to a seven branch network by end of 2009.”

Written by dermot

June 25th, 2007 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Significant rise in new car sales this year

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Sunday Business Post – Summer Motoring Supplement – June 24 2007

Sales of new passenger cars in Ireland have risen significantly in the first few months of the year. According to figures released by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (Simi), a total of 138,212 were sold in Ireland to the end of May. The corresponding figure for 2006 was 129,222.

“New car sales are up by about 7 per cent overall so far this year,” said Cyril McHugh, chief executive of the SIMI. “It is a very good year and it looks like 2007 is going to the be second biggest year ever for new car sales in Ireland after 2000, which was an exceptional year.”

McHugh predicted that the total new car sales in 2007 would be in the region of 190,000 – up from 178,826 last year.

“Our population is growing, and this growth is in the adult age group, more than in new births,” said McHugh. “The increasing numbers of people at work creates a demand for cars.”

The monthly sales figures for May showed even higher year on year growth. McHugh said that the culmination of the Irish government’s SSIA (Special Savings Incentive Accounts) was a factor in this.

“With May being up 14 per cent that is evidence of an SSIA impact, either with the lump sum themselves, or with the now free monthly payments,” he said.

Dave Shannon, managing director of Toyota Ireland, said that the boost in spending power created by the SSIAs meant that some motorists could now opt for a more expensive model than they might otherwise have done.

“SSIAs are being used by people to upgrade, rather than new people coming in to buy new cars,” he said. “We are finding that people want to go up a grade to get air conditioning or alloy wheels, rather than get the basic model.”

The Simi statistics show that Toyota remains the largest new car brand in Ireland, with Volkswagen succeeding Ford in second place. Toyota sales to end of May 2007 were 20,763, representing a 15 per cent market share. Volkswagen sales totalled 15,731 and Ford managed 15,179 sales, representing a 11 per cent of the market in both cases.

“There is still good demand out there for new vehicles, and within Ford, our passenger volume is up by over three per cent so we are sharing in the industry growth,” said Eddie Murphy, chairman of Ford Ireland.

Other leading brands in the Irish new passenger vehicle sales market include Opel (12,186 sales to May 2007), Nissan (10,743), Peugeot (5,743), Renault (5,310), BMW (5,158) and Hyundai (5,158).

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) statistics, the total new passenger car registrations in the EU and Efta (European Free Trade Area) fell for a fourth consecutive month in May 2007 with a total of 1,442,518 registrations, down 1.6 per cent on May 2006.

“Our car ownership level is still towards the lower end of the European Union average, with about 39 cars per 100 people, whereas England, France, Italy and Germany are all at 50 or above,” said McHugh.

Shannon said that the segment within the new car market in Ireland showing the highest growth was the C-segment.

“This segment, which is the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus segment, has gone up from 41,000 to 45,000 from January to May,” he said.

Murphy said broader economic factors would influence the numbers of new cars sold in Ireland next year.

“Clearly if interest rates continue to rise, that will have an impact on new car sales, to an extent,” said Murphy.

Shannon said that changes in the Irish political situation could also affect new car sales going forward. He said there would be a slight fall in the total number of new cars sold in Ireland next year.

“Even allowing for the new government, and the introduction of a new VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) system, I do not think there will be a huge effect on the volume of sales in the country,” he said. “But if you ask me I would say new car sales might be somewhere around 10 per cent down in 2008.”

Written by dermot

June 25th, 2007 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Lakeside luxury in northern Italy

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Sunday Business Post – Property Section – June 17 2007

Turnkey apartments on Lake Garda in northern Italy are likely to attract investors and holiday home buyers interested in the sun and ski-friendly climate, writes Dermot Corrigan.

The latest phase of Padenghe 5-Star Village, a turnkey development on the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy, is now on the market with prices starting at €226,000 for a one-bedroom apartment measuring 53 square metres. Prices rise to €348,000 for two-bedroom apartments measuring 107 square metres.

Liz Maher, managing director of selling agent Imagine Property Network (IPN), said the properties were being sold with fully fitted kitchens, white goods, a full furniture pack and Vat included, whereas most Italian properties were sold as a shell or with the minimum of finish.

‘‘These apartments are totally turnkey, which is quite unusual for Italy,” said Maher. ‘‘The only thing you have to bring with you is the bedlinen.”

The properties are laid out in blocks, each containing two two-bed apartments and three one-beds. A covered parking area in the development costs €18,000, while a garage costs €30,800.

The Padenghe properties are designed in typical Italian style and lie in landscaped gardens. Although the apartments do not offer lake views, the complex is situated only 150 metres from the lake itself. There are also large communal outdoor swimming pools and tennis courts on site.

Maher said she expected the apartments to be popular with investors or holiday home buyers attracted by northern Italy’s sun and ski-friendly climate.

‘‘These properties have a dual usage in that you can use your unit yourself during the summer, while in winter you are only a half-hour away from the ski slopes,” she said.

The reservation fee to secure a property is €5,000,witha 30 per cent deposit required upon signing of contracts and the balance due on completion, which is slated for December 2008.The properties provide a significant opportunity to generate rental income, according to Maher.

‘‘There will be a small five-star hotel on site, and owners will be able to make arrangements to rent their apartments through the hotel,” she said.

The Padenghe 5 Star Village is located between two larger Lake Garda towns. Desenzano, four kilometres away, is the area’s largest town with a population of 23,000 and a lively nightlife and shopping scene, while Moniga is only two kilometres from Padenghe and is home to a 13th century castle. Golf is also an attraction, with six clubs within easy reach.

Maher said the north of Italy was now easily accessible from Ireland with direct flights connecting Dublin to Verona, Bergamo and Milan and other routes linking Belfast with Verona and Shannon with Bergamo.

‘‘You are an hour or 70 minutes by car from the nearest airport, and it is only about a two and a half hour flight from Ireland,” she said.

She said Italian property had traditionally attracted affluent investors, but that properties were coming on the market at lower prices.

‘‘When we first started selling properties in this part of Italy, it was more families that we were selling to or people looking to retire there,” said Maher. ‘‘That has changed considerably over the last few months and people who were formerly looking at emerging markets now find that they can get something in Italy.”

Maher said Irish investors were attracted to Italy by stable capital appreciation rates of 7 to 8 per cent per year, and that IPN was continually sourcing properties with Irish investors in mind.

‘‘We also have another property coming on in Lake Como,” she said.

‘‘It will comprise two-bedroom apartments that sit directly on the water and which will come with moorings for a boat and the boat itself.

They will start from about €550,000.” Less expensive properties were also freely available in the north of Italy, said Maher. IPN is currently offering a development in Tuscany made up of studios and one and two-bedroom apartments along with two and three-bedroom townhouses.

‘‘It’s a small Tuscan village up in the hills, with stone buildings,” said Maher. ‘‘A studio apartment there will start at €95,000 and the three-bed townhouses will be up to €350,000.”

More information about the Padenghe 5 Star Village and other Italian properties is available from IPN on 1850-200780 or

Written by dermot

June 18th, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Start-ups surge

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Sunday Business Post – New to the Market supplement – Cover Feature – June 17 2007

More than 5,000 companies were established in the first quarter of 2007, thanks to economic development and an increase in entrepreneurial confidence, writes Dermot Corrigan.

According to the latest research from Bank of Ireland (BoI), Irish entrepreneurs continue to set up new businesses in large numbers.

“According to the latest Business Start-Up Barometer, over 5,000 companies established in the first quarter of 2007,” said Damien Young, head of small business with Bank of Ireland.

“The latest results show a slight drop in Q1 company formations from 5,311 in 2006 to 5,276 in 2007. While the figures may have slowed, they are still well ahead of registrations in the same period during the first three months of 2005.”

Young said that the these figures were historically very strong, and showed that the 21st century Irish economy was now offering opportunities to new businesses which may not have been there in the past.

“In the last twenty years, the number of new Irish start up companies has more than doubled from under 10,000 in 1986 to 20,000 in 2006,” said Young. “This growth can be attributed to both Irish economic development and an increase in the confidence of entrepreneurs when considering self employment.”

Avine McNally, assistant director with the Small Firms Association (SFA), said that new and smaller businesses would continue to be of vital importance to the Irish economy in the coming years, regardless of levels of inward investment from larger multinational organisations.

“Small businesses provide employment and create and develop an economy in their local area,” she said. “It is essential that they are encouraged to develop and expand because these are the firms that are going to be staying here, they are not going to move to lower cost economies or where grants are more attractive.”

McNally said that there was now a very solid appreciation and understanding of entrepreneurship running through Irish society.

“I think now is a very good time to start up a business in Ireland,” said McNally. “There have been huge changes over the last couple of years in a number of different areas, and therefore there is now a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship in Ireland.”

McNally said that institutional support had enabled this entrepreneurial atmosphere to flourish.

“We now have a lot of good government policy which is encouraging entrepreneurship,” she said. “There is good support from County Enterprise Boards in relation to helping micro businesses and small businesses get established. Also it has become a lot easier for companies to access finance.”

McNally said that given this supportive environment gave would-be entrepreneurs the confidence to strike out on their own.

“We are also seeing a lot of people setting up as one man band, sole trader type environments,” said McNally. “You have people working from a very low cost base, maybe from an office within their home. People keep start up costs low at first, and then maybe invest more as the business expands.”

Young said that construction continued to be the most popular sector for new businesses.

“Construction and civil engineering still remains the dominant industry for start-ups, despite predictions of a soft landing in the sector,” he said. “The real estate sector also continues as a popular choice for entrepreneurs with 296 real estate management companies and 217 real estate development and sales companies established in Q1.”

McNally said that entrepreneurs were also seeing many opportunities for new businesses in the services area.

“Over a third of businesses are looking at the area of consumer services,” she said. “The reasons are that it can be slightly easier to establish in the services area, it may not be as highly regulated, and it can be quite easy to obtain a premises and set up a service business compared to manufacturing or something like that.”

Young said that approximately ten per cent of the Irish working public was considering setting up their own business.

“According to recent research, almost one in ten of the adult population living in Ireland is actively planning or has recently set up a new business,” said Young. “This level of entrepreneurship is high compared to our European neighbours and a significant contributor is Irish culture and social norms.”

Tom McCarthy, chief executive of the Irish Management Institute (IMI), said that the large numbers of start-ups in Ireland, particularly in high technology areas, was not translating into a sufficient number of highly successful companies.

“I think the yearning for start-ups is very strong,” said McCarthy. “The change in mindset through the 1990s when people saw start-ups as something they should get into has not gone away. The question is about turning desire into practical outcomes.”

“Where I think there has been a shortage is in the management capability to actually grow right through from the idea to a viable business,” he said. “We have not seen enough start-up companies recently demonstrating the capacity to grow to a critical mass scale.”

McCarthy said that entrepreneurs may have to be willing to share ownership of their start-up companies if they want to bring in sufficient management skills and knowledge to grow their idea into a formidable business.

“It is not that easy to bring in high level management expertise because that type of expertise is scarce and it can cost a lot,” he said. “I think you are going to see a model whereby technology entrepreneurs are willing at an early stage to give up equity in their organisation to get that kind of management expertise in.”

Continued government support is necessary to ensure Ireland Inc maintains its current rate of start-up businesses, said Young.

“The Government recently announced a new €21 million fund for Community Enterprise Centres, focusing on areas around the country that have recently experienced job losses,” he said. “Community Enterprise Centres provide business space in a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and help the development of entrepreneurship locally.”

Written by dermot

June 18th, 2007 at 11:43 am

Posted in Business