Hardware merchants in Connacht are seeing a stronger growth in business activity but the growth is considerably below the national average. In a survey of Hardware Association Ireland members carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes, hardware merchants across the country reported seeing an improvement in business activity for the first time since the onset of the recession.
But the difference in the regions is striking. While 43 per cent of merchants in Connacht and Ulster reported an improvement in the past 12 months, in Dublin it was 68 per cent, in the rest of Leinster 57 per cent and in Munster 46 per cent. The national average is 52 per cent.
There was also less of an increase in staff recruitment in the Connacht and Ulster region. Only eight per cent of merchants reported increasing staff. In Dublin the figure was 41 per cent, rest of Leinster 22 per cent, and in Munster 15 per cent.
Overall HAI members are more positive about the year ahead than they were in 2013, with 56 per cent expecting business will be higher in the next 12 months, against 30 per cent this time last year.
There are also fewer hardware merchants seeking financial support from lending institutions and fewer receiving the required support. Just 13 per cent applied to lending institutions for funding over the past 12 months with 60 per cent being successful. A year earlier, 21 per cent sought financial support and 75 per cent were successful.
Both short-term and long-term finance provided the rationale for application, with funding for short-term loan (55 per cent ), long-term loan (45 per cent ) and overdraft (30 per cent ) topping the list.