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41pc of firms plan to hire

IRISH businesses are showing clear signs of optimism about the future with 41pc planning to hire in the next 12 months.

The majority of Irish private companies (90pc) expect that their businesses will perform better over the next year.

The new survey, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, found that 57pc of companies said they are planning for the upturn, with nearly half identifying new customers and markets.

President of Dublin Chamber of Commerce Peter Brennan said that an appetite for investment opportunities is clearly returning.

"Private companies will need to maximise their competitive advantage by drawing on their innovation and entrepreneurial spirit," he said. "Having the finances in place, however, remains a challenge and Government and the financial system need to continue to work together to make funding available to the private sector."

John Dunne, PwC Private Company Services, said that the survey suggests that Irish private businesses are now shifting their focus from survival to growth and are taking action to plan for the upturn.

"Over the last year, private businesses have cut their cloth to survive the economic downturn," he said. "Despite continued price competition and funding challenges, companies are clearly looking to develop new customers and markets."