Tuesday 16 January 2018

Irish firms 'thinking smarter than UK rivals'

Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney. Photo: Andres Poveda
Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney. Photo: Andres Poveda

Sean Duffy

Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney believes Irish companies are preparing for Brexit in a much more realistic fashion than their counterparts in the UK.

The global food group boss emphasised the uncertainty that is swirling around global markets after a turbulent 2016, but insisted "just because we can't see the way, doesn't mean that the way won't emerge".

Speaking at the launch of Core Media's 'Marketing Multiplied' report, Mr Coveney said: "Irish business is thinking much more deeply and much more rationally than British business.

"And it is thinking much more rationally about what some of the consequences might be. It's going to bounce around a lot, both in terms of what is being sought out and the timeframe over which it happens."

Mr Coveney added that the outlook for Irish agri-exporters may not be as bad as was first feared because of the UK's dependence on Ireland for much of its agricultural produce.

He said the reality of Ireland's trading relationship with the UK meant that the UK would still be dependent on Irish imports for the foreseeable future.

He noted the challenge would be to overcome the impending bureaucratic hurdles thrown up by the UK's exit from the single market.

Britain would continue to buy Irish food, he said, adding: "There is no structural way in which Britain will become self-sufficient in beef, self-sufficient in dairy in the next 20 or 30 years."

Mr Coveney cast doubt on whether the UK would be granted the type of free trade arrangement outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May last week.

He said the notion that the UK would get a free trade deal from the EU was "somewhat naive".

The Greencore boss said that long-standing relationships would be key for Irish businesses over the medium term as they adapt to the new environment post-Brexit.

Irish Independent

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