By Aileen Boyle, Managing Director of Braemar Finance
Funeral Directors in Ireland and the UK face many similar challenges yet can also differ on key issues. In this article I look at the views and thoughts of small to medium sized firms (SMEs) on a range of topics on both sides of the Irish Sea, which are obtained from our recent detailed survey of businesses in the professions sector.
Access to funding and appetite for investment
Nearly two thirds of Ireland Funeral Directors are finding it a challenge to access the funding they need to invest in their businesses, despite 75% planning to actively seek finance for business investment in the next 12 months (UK = 62%).
Only 13% in Ireland indicated that it’s ‘becoming easier’ and 25% saying they have never had a problem.
Funeral businesses in Ireland are best described as ‘cautiously optimistic’ about their prospects for the coming 12 months, with 38% feeling that while the worst is behind us, it will be a slow path to recovery; a further 38% feel that the economy could yet decline.
This contrasts strongly with the UK, where four out 10 firms in the funeral sector are confident about the steady recovery of the economy.
Looking at expected performance, 25% are hoping to expand, with 50% expecting to ‘stay the same’; another 25% will be scaling down their operations.
Managing debt is the highest priority for 38% of Funeral Directors in the Ireland (UK = 25%), which is the highest of all professions. ‘Achieving growth’ comes second followed by ‘standing still’.
It’s clear businesses in the funeral sector currently have different priorities, with expansion ambitions relegated in favour of more practical considerations.