Britain May be Close but it’s not the same as the Home Market…Shannon Chamber Seminar hears

Keynote speakers at the ‘Doing Business in Britain’ seminar (from left): Neil Pakey, CEO Shannon Group plc; Stephen Keogh, Keating Connolly Sellors Solicitors, Limerick; Hussein Casey, ACA, Senior Consultant, Tax Advisory, Grant Thornton; Christine Esson, UK Manager – New Market Entrants, Enterprise Ireland; Conor Kenny, Head of Investment, UK Trade & Investment; Helen Downes, chief executive, Shannon Chamber; Garret Grogan, Head of Long Term Interest Rate Trading at Bank of Ireland Global Markets; James Blakemore, Managing Director, JMB Partnership; Willie Wixted, Director, ABC Nutritionals; and Paul Caplis, Commercial Director, British-Irish Chamber of Commerce.


As part of its commitment to the Mid-West Action Plan for Jobs to host an event to encourage export activities by member companies, Shannon Chamber recently hosted a half-day seminar entitled ‘Doing Business in Britain’ in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce. Almost one-hundred delegates attended the event, which was held in the Radisson Blu Hotel, sponsored by Grant Thornton with associate sponsorship from Enterprise Ireland and Bank of Ireland.

A diverse panel of speakers which included: Neil Pakey, CEO Shannon Group plc; Christine Esson, UK Manager – New Market Entrants, Enterprise Ireland; Willie Wixted, director, ABC Nutritionals; Garret Grogan, head of long-term interest rate trading at Bank of Ireland Global Markets; Hussein Casey, ACA, senior consultant, Tax Advisory, Grant Thornton; Conor Kenny, head of investment, UK Trade & Investment; James Blakemore, managing director, JMB Partnership and Paul Caplis, commercial director, British Irish Chamber of Commerce gave attendees a wealth of practical advice for entering this overseas market, which, according to Enterprise Ireland’s Christine Esson “ is a fantastic market but not an extension of the home market.”

“While there are some similarities, there are a lot of differences,” she stated, adding that companies should not look towards Britain for the short term but should show interest in the market by basing a person in the UK.

“It’s all about being there,” she said, urging companies to do their market research, research their competitors, have a clear marketing and sales plan, have the right people with the right skills in the marketplace even if that means recruiting in the market itself, always to be mindful to take care of the business at home, and have the foresight to walk away from bad business.

“Businesses need to be ready, willing, and able before entering Britain; they must do the work in Ireland before entering the market,” she added.

Shannon-based ABC Nutrition’s managing director Willie Wixted said that exporting to Britain was so much easier than any other European country but warned businesses to be conscious of currency swings.

James Blakemore, managing director of UK-based JMB Partnership, who has assisted many international companies seeking to increase sales added: “The key mistakes companies make early on relate to pricing; it’s important to know what competitors are charging. This level of information should be attained as part of the market research. Data is the key to any lead generation so it’s important to build a high-probability list rather than taking a ‘stab in the dark’ approach.”

Companies seeking to export to Britain, undertake research or seek feasibility level information can contact Enterprise Ireland, the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce or UK Trade and Investment, both of which have offices in Dublin.

Commenting on the event, Shannon Chamber’s chief executive Helen Downes, said: “This was our first linkage with the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce. The feedback from the event has been immensely positive and we hope it will lead to an increase on current trade levels with the UK, which, with 16% exports and 34% imports, makes the UK the largest two-way trading partner for Ireland.”