Chamber News

Business Community Survey April 2020Chambers Ireland and our nationwide network of chambers has today (30th April 2020) published results from a survey of the Irish business community. This survey seeks to quantify and highlight the impact of COVID-19 on businesses in towns, cities and regions across the country.

The third in a series, the survey has over 1300 responses and was conducted between the 24 and 28 April 2020.

The previous Chambers Ireland survey results, published on 9th April, found that 84% of businesses expect revenue to decline by in excess of 25% in the next three months, up from 73% two weeks earlier. Fears about cashflow and liquidity were the greatest concerns of micro-enterprises (<10 employees) with closures and staffing being a concern for larger businesses across many sectors.

The headline results of today’s survey are:


  • 85% of businesses have closed to some degree with,
    • 27% have scaled back activity
    • 24% have front of house closed with staff working from home
    • 34% have shut completely
  • Only 15% remain open

Timeline to Reopening:

  • Most businesses say they will need at least two weeks’ notice to reopen
  • 25% of businesses have said that it will take at least a month
  • There is a small minority in agri-food, tourism, and hospitality which will have to wait until next year to reopen

Closure costs:

  • For those businesses that are closed, typical weekly overheads are approximately €2,000
  • 25% of firms have noted that overheads are greater than €5,000 per week

Cost of Reopening:

  • Of those that need to restock, the typical amount required is €3,000 with 25% of firms having to spend over €8,000 on restocking
  • For physical distancing measures, the typical cost will be €2,000, with 25% spending in excess of €5,000

Decline in Revenue:

  • Of the businesses who have been hardest hit (those which have lost more than half of their revenue for the next three months), 60% project that their 2020 annual earnings will be less than half of what they were expecting at the start of the year
  • 68% of businesses have invoices outstanding, with €40,000 being the median amount owed 

Speaking this morning, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “With lockdown measures due to expire on the 5 May, it is critical that Government engage with businesses on how local economies. The purpose of this latest survey was to help us understand not only how deep the economic impact has been on the business community, but what supports they will need to re-open as the restrictions are phased out.

“While the economy was shut down to a large degree in a matter of days, the process for reopening will not be as straightforward. Most of those responding to our survey have noted they will need at least two weeks to reopen, with approx. 25% noting that they would need at least four weeks. There are also likely to be significant costs involved in reopening businesses, which can be attributed to re-stocking and putting appropriate social distancing measures are in place.

“The last few weeks of closure have already cost businesses in excess of an average €10,000, in addition to the projections of revenue likely to be lost over the course of the rest of the year. For the median retailer that has closed, the costs of restocking before they can open will be €1,600, the costs of implementing physical distancing measures will be another €1,000. It will take them a week to reopen, which will cost another €2,000 in overhead costs.

“Of the businesses which have been hardest hit (those which have lost more than half of their revenue for the next three months), 60% project that their 2020 annual earnings will be less than half of what they were expecting at the start of the year. 68% of businesses have invoices outstanding, with €40,000 being the median amount owed, with only a quarter of business owners predicting that the majority of their invoices outstanding will be paid.

“With the above in mind, the question for many business owners is soon going to become not ‘Can we keep going?’, but ‘Can we afford to reopen?’

“This data verifies what we have been telling Government over the past few weeks - we need a clear plan for reopening the economy. This includes advance notice of the dates that various sectors will reopen, a clear strategy on what sectors will reopen first, information on what protocol will need to be in place and whether support will be available to financially assist businesses to reopen.

“The business community needs direct support from Government if it is to reopen. The objective of many of the supports to date, such as the Wage Subsidy Scheme, has been to ensure that employees are retained on payroll for when the economy reopens.

“What the business community needs to see now is a similar approach to ensuring that overheads, other than wages, receive some form of subsidy or grant. Without this aid, the chance of businesses successfully reopening and maintaining employment is significantly reduced.”

Chambers Ireland Back2Work 29 April

29th April at 2.30pm
Part 1 - Back2Work: Workforce Planning for the Future

Registration link:

This 30 minute webinar will include advice on:

  • The process for selecting who to bring back (can your choices be justified?).
  • Redundancy processes.
  • Return to work policies.
  • When you reopen but your staff want to work from home - How to manage a “phase-return”.

 Chambers Ireland Preparing Your Business 5th May

5th May at 2.30pm
Part 2 - Preparing your Business to Reopen Post COVID-19

Registration link:

This 30 minute webinar will include advice on:

  • Returning to work after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Restrictions being laid down by the government to companies and employers.
  • Showing you’re implementing the proper procedures.
  • Your duty of care towards staff and how to take the necessary steps to document this.

Waterford SMEs Covid 19 Steps Towards Recovery

Covid-19 has created huge disruptions to business activity globally and we here in Waterford are no exception. While it is still not absolutely clear what the future business environment will look like, there are a number of steps which we should all take in order to be ready for the post-Covid marketplace and to preserve our own health and wellbeing as well as that of our businesses.
The Local Authority (WCCC), Enterprise Ireland (EI), the Local Enterprise Office (LEO), both Waterford Chamber of Commerce along with Dungarvan and West Waterford Chamber of Commerce and Waterford Business Group have come together to look at potential steps towards a recovery and to outline the existing services and supports which can aid that transition. We suggest that the following steps can be of significant advantage.

Read online:

Download PDF:

Reboot Your Business 2Chambers Ireland, in association with Griffith College, have today (24 April 2020) announced a free online business planning course for its 8,000 members nationwide. Commencing on Thursday 30 April 2020, the course will address the key concerns that businesses are facing, including cashflow, crisis management and managing flexible working practices, and will assist them in developing plans to reboot their business.

Welcoming the announcement of the course, Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland, Ian Talbot, said: “Over the last few weeks, we have been working closely with our member Chambers and have listened to stories from businesses throughout the country, hearing how the restrictions and closures necessitated by the national health response to COVID-19, have impacted the operations of their business.

“Many have seen their revenue collapse, have let staff go, and have had to ultimately restructure how they run their business, with lots of companies moving to a remote working model much faster than they ever could have anticipated. The challenges for businesses to harness digital transformation, rebuild their operations and adapt to the post-COVID-19 economy are enormous.

“This partnership with Griffith College in delivering online education in Business Planning will be essential in supporting business in this transition and will be of particular benefit to business managers and owners in their dealings with banks and government agencies in the months ahead.”

The programme will see industry experts lead a series of FREE workshops, entitled Reboot your Business - through your Business Development Plan, to assist the many businesses struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. The ten workshops will take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday each week and will be available to view for FREE online. Each session will cover different aspects involved in creating a business development plan. These include industry analysis, competitor analysis, internal evaluation, finance, market performance and logistics. Leading industry experts across a range of relevant topics will contribute their experience and advice.

Participants who complete the business development plan may also seek to obtain a nationally accredited QQI Certificate in Small and Medium Enterprise Management from Griffith College, which provides a practical grounding in the skills vital to SME Management.

Dr Tomás Mac Eochagáin, Director of Academic Programmes at Griffith College, said: “We are delighted to partner with Chambers Ireland on this joint initiative and to share the experience of the college’s Graduate Business School team to support Irish businesses.”

The schedule of programme workshops and registration details are available from the Chambers Ireland and Griffith College websites.

Today (24 April 2020) Chambers Ireland launches its latest Covid-19 Business Community Survey. The third in a series, the survey seeks quantify the economic impact COVID-19 is having on businesses around the country and looks at the supports that will be needed to reboot the economy.

This survey is targeted at businesses who are members of their local chambers of commerce and those that are not. With it, we seek to chart out the effects of the Covid-19 restrictions on the Irish Business community, and through creating an evidence base, assist policy makers and business owners guide our economy through the Covid-19 challenges.

Our last survey, which was published on the 9 April, with over 1110 responses, found 84% of businesses expect revenue to decline by in excess of 25% in the next three months, up from 73% two weeks earlier. 25% of those who responded expect revenue to collapse by more than 90%, with one in five businesses laying off all staff. For those who have closed their operations entirely, most expect to remain closed for at least 12 weeks. Fears about cashflow and liquidity were the greatest concerns of micro-enterprises (<10 employees) with closures and staffing being a concern for larger businesses across many sectors.

With lockdown measures due to expire on the 5 May, Chambers Ireland seeks to start a conversation with businesses on how local economies can be supported to re-open. If your business has been affected by Covid-19 please let us know your experiences here: Chambers Ireland Covid-19 Business Community Survey

Speaking today Chambers Ireland’s Chief Executive, Ian Talbot, said, “While it remains unclear when exactly the wider economy will begin to reopen, what is clear is that we must begin to plan for how the economy will reopen, and how businesses will be supported in this process.

“We have made clear in our communications with Government that deciding the date of relaxing the lockdown is only the first step. It is very possible that we will go through a series of cycles, where measures are relaxed and restricted, in response to the virus. Each time this happens, there are likely to be costs.

“What we hope to achieve from this latest Business Community Survey is a deeper understanding of the economic impact businesses are experiencing, the supports they will need to survive the crisis, and the supports they will need to re-open once we reach a point where at least some of the restrictions can be relaxed.

“If we do not understand the scale and the nature of the economic impact on local economies, then we risk focusing the recovery efforts on the wrong areas. An accurate picture of how this crisis is affecting the business community and what supports they will need from Government is essential if we are to successfully reboot the economy.

“So, to businesses right around the country, please make sure you share your experience with us and make your voice heard.”

LEO Business Continuity Voucher

Waterford Chamber has teamed up with Waterford Local Enterprise Office to assist you directly in getting access to free €2,500 worth of professional consultations through the Business Continuity Voucher.

This is free money to help you plan to save, stabilise and grow your business at this difficult time. There are no catches, no repayments, and no match-funding. The money is there to help you explore new angles to keep your business trading (e.g. Financial Planning, Expert HR Advice, Marketing Advice, ICT Advice, Futuristic Retail Mentoring, LEAN Advice etc)

The best part is that we can now do the paperwork for you and get you access to some of the best consultants in the business.

Both Gerald Hurley and Lynda Lawton will be working with companies to complete the paperwork to ensure your application is approved and we will work with you right through to completion.

Feel free to get in touch with Gerald or Lynda as follows:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 086 2528093

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 087 9379894

Below are some additional details on the Business Continuity Voucher and we would encourage you to give it serious consideration.

We’re on hand to talk you through the process and get you access to this free advice as quickly as possible.

Business Continuity Voucher

Sole traders and businesses*, employing up to 50 staff, are eligible to apply for a Business Continuity Voucher to the value of €2,500 towards third party consultancy costs to assist with developing short-term and long-term strategies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the voucher is to provide contingency planning advice to assist enterprises to continue trading through the crisis.

The primary aim of the scheme will be to support companies make informed decisions on the immediate measures needed to continue trading in the current environment while securing the safety of all employees and future business viability through identification of remedial actions.

The Business Continuity Voucher is available to support businesses:

  • Develop a business continuity plan
  • Assess current financial needs in the short term to medium term
  • Reduce variable costs, overheads and expenses
  • Review and explore supply chain financing options
  • Implement remote working processes or procedures
  • Leverage HR expertise
  • Leverage ICT expertise
  • Prepare a business case for application to emergency financial interventions available through Banks, SBCI (Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland) and Microfinance Ireland.

* Please note: The Business Continuity Voucher is available to all businesses employing up to 50 across all sectors. The applicant must be an Irish-owned enterprise with up to 50 employees. An application must be submitted in the name of a company registered with the Companies Registration Office and incorporated in the Republic of Ireland at the time of application. Applications will also be accepted from Sole Traders and Partnerships.

To support its members, Waterford Chamber has developed a new online map showcasing services and those in the retail sector who are currently operational during Covid-19.

According to Gerald Hurley, CEO Waterford Chamber, “The map is designed to inform the business community and the wider public about those providing essential services such as retail, delivery services or professional services that are required on a regular basis. The map is hosted on our website and shared across our various social media platforms, as well as by a number of stakeholders in the city and county.

“For those members who have not yet contacted us for inclusion, please email us directly and we will add you immediately. It is essential at this time that we all work together to promote and support each other in business during this difficult time.”

Chambers Ireland has made a submission to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) asking them to be more flexible in how business consumers are billed as part of Irish Water’s Non-Domestic Tariff Framework.

The CRU has made recommendations that Irish Water should be extremely strict and inflexible with their business customers in two key areas.

Firstly, about assigning and switching tariff classes, and secondly about leaks.

The CRU proposals would see businesses charged on the basis of the previous year’s consumption and upon receiving their harmonised bill these businesses will then have to argue that they should be reassigned to a different tariff.

On leaks, the CRU is seeking to transfer all risks that relate to a premises onto the occupier and would in some cases disallow any rebate for leakage.

Speaking today (20 April), Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,

“Chambers Ireland has called on the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) to amend their proposed regulations which relate to the billing of Irish Water’s business clients.

As part of the move to harmonise water charges across the country, a move that will in its own right increase pressures on a large number of businesses, the CRU is also proposing billing changes which have the potential to gravely affect struggling businesses in these trying times.

There are two principle problems with these proposals.

Firstly the CRU’s proposals will have businesses paying for their water at rates which are based on last year’s usage. With so many businesses closed this will put many businesses into an inappropriate category which will force many businesses to challenge the new charges, a prospect which could bring the harmonisation process into disrepute.

Then, next year, upon resuming business as normal post Covid-19, these same businesses will have to challenge their bills a second time, because 2020’s consumption is likely to be completely unrepresentative.

The second issue is that the Commission is seeking to transfer all the risk associated with on-site water leakages onto the business customers of Irish water. Chambers Ireland believes that the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, reveal how inflexible this move is, and how the regulations should allow for circumstances which are outside of the customer’s control.

Across the country, many businesses are not free to maintain, or perhaps even access, their business premises. Key workers may be cocooned. The proposed system is so inflexible that it cannot deal with real world problems.

These problems with the CRU proposals will create an undue burden on businesses which they will have to investigate whether they should be on a more appropriate rate, and will also create the bureaucratic challenge of tens of thousands of customers having to contest their bills.”

Click here to read the submission.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are launching a worldwide survey to report the challenges faced by the private sector from COVID-19.

In response to COVID-19, ICC and WHO are surveying the private sector to gather more information about global business responses and develop solutions that will address the spread of the pandemic. The ICC-WHO survey will improve information flows between different sectors of the global economy and develop a framework for managing the economic and human consequences related to the pandemic’s spread.

On the launch of the ICC-WHO survey, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said, “By providing transparent feedback, the private sector can minimise the spread of COVID-19 and address the pandemic’s underlying repercussions for our global economy. ICC and WHO are calling on business leaders – as trusted voices in their local communities – to share more information about the pandemic’s influence on their daily operations, supply chains, and employees.

Please, take a few moments to complete this survey, so that we can protect our colleagues, customers, and communities from the continual damage caused by this pandemic’s spread.”

The survey is the latest step in ICC and WHO’s unique collaboration to provide reliable COVID-19-related information to the private sector and develop trusted guidance for business communities around the world. As part of an initial joint statement, ICC and WHO called upon national governments to adopt a ‘whole-of-society’ approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calling for participation in the survey via video message, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “This survey will allow us to understand how businesses are responding. It will help us map best practices and understand better where we and national health authorities should focus our attention. The information generated by the survey will help us mount an effective response, saving lives and minimising economic damage.”

ICC Ireland Secretary General and Chief Executive of Chambers Ireland Ian Talbot said, “As the results published yesterday from Chambers Ireland’s most recent national business survey show, the pandemic has deeply impacted businesses across Ireland, on a widespread scale reaching across different industries, with consequences and challenges for all levels of Irish society.

While the data being shared is stark, it is crucial in identifying the necessary, practical solutions to address the pandemic. By completing this survey, businesses will be speaking out on the challenges they now face while playing their part in a global business response, coordinated through the ICC, the largest business representative organisation in the world and the WHO.

This joint effort is a unique partnership bridging together the voice of business at all levels, representing local communities from Ireland and at global level, with medical experts to address this crisis.

We strongly urge businesses to complete this survey from the ICC-WHO to share key information to develop the best response possible to the impacts of the pandemic.”

The ICC-WHO survey


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Tom Murphy, Tom Murphy Car Sales



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