European growth sparks jobs boom at Carlow company
Burnside Eurocyl to continue hiring spree after double-digit growth on the continent, writes Fearghal O'Connor
Hydraulic cylinder manufacturer Burnside Eurocyl experienced close to 20pc growth over the last year, driven by its growth in continental European markets.
The Carlow-based company has already upped its job numbers from 200 to 240 over the past 18 months and plans to grow its staff numbers again to as much 320.
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Burnside Eurocyl manufactures specialised hydraulic cylinders, more than 90pc of which are exported on a just-in-time basis to well-known mobile construction and road-building machinery brands such as John Deere, Volvo, JCB and Kubota.
The company - which is managed jointly by brothers Tom and Anthony Byrne - is part of the wider Burnside group which separated into five Carlow-based companies in 1998. They employ more than 1,000 people with turnover of close to €200m, of which Eurocyl accounts for close to €50m.
"We have been very busy in recent times although we are seeing something of a slowdown now," said joint managing director Tom Byrne. "We are tied into leading manufacturers and we have been with some of them for 15 years."
The company's key market is continental Europe, with 10pc of sales going to North America, 10pc of its business in Britain and Northern Ireland and 5pc going to the domestic market.
Growth in France from 2017 to 2018 was 18pc, while growth in Germany during the same period was 12pc, said Byrne. The North American market grew by 50pc and is expected to grow by a further 30pc this year, he said.
"We supply on a just-in-time basis, often directly to the assembly line, so we need to be very agile. We dispatch from here on a Friday and it arrives in Germany or France to the customer on Tuesday morning. Any disruption to that from Brexit could cause difficulty."
Byrne said that although it ships its product for the continent mostly via Britain, it has looked into alternative routes.
"We have spoken to carriers and the other option we have is to put a warehouse on the continent. Brexit would certainly add to our costs but we don't see it as a huge issue, except with the UK business where the fall in the value of sterling since the referendum has made us less competitive."
Enterprise Ireland figures show that more and more Irish companies are, like Burnside Eurocyl, taking the focus off the UK and diversifying into European markets.
Since 2008, exports to outside the UK have doubled from €7.4bn in 2008 to reach €14.8bn in 2018, previously unpublished figures show.
That represents compound annual growth of 7.1pc per annum over 10 years, compared to just 2.6pc for exports to the UK.
Byrne said that although the cost of doing business in Ireland has risen markedly, Burnside Eurocyl has invested €1m into research and development over the past two years to ensure that it remains competitive.
"Our R&D is divided into the areas of 'new processes' to increase production efficiency and 'new products' to enter new markets," he said.
Sunday Indo Business