Bank of Ireland is delighted to support Best Managed Companies programme for a fourth consecutive year. Every year, we see great examples of how businesses respond to both opportunities and challenges. However, this year was like no other given the upheaval and uncertainty endured over the last 18 months.
The resilience displayed by Irish business leaders since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has been remarkable, something we witnessed on a daily basis at Bank of Ireland from our customers.
This year my fellow Best Managed Companies awards programme judges and I were particularly impressed by how both new applicants and requalifiers responded to the pandemic.
Every business has been affected. While for some sectors the financial impact was more limited, all leaders and managers have faced new challenges including the need to establish new ways of working, requiring management teams to be agile and innovative.
For other sectors, the impact has been more fundamental. At Bank of Ireland we have been inspired by the response of our customers, in particular the resolve and commitment seen from leaders in more deeply affected sectors.
We have worked with thousands of our business customers providing support, advice on evolving operating models to meet changed customer and supplier demands and to protect the health and safety of staff and customers.
Though the impact of the pandemic will likely remain with us for some time, we face into the remainder of the year with renewed optimism as the focus turns to recovery and growth. Bank of Ireland is forecasting that Irish GDP will increase by 9 per cent this year and by 6.2 per cent next year.
Fifty-five per cent of households surveyed for our Economic Pulse think the economy will recover in the next 12 months, with one in three believing their personal finances will improve.
Allied with the lessons learned in efficiency and flexibility during the pandemic, this indicates there is every reason to have a positive outlook.
At Bank of Ireland we are focused on practical initiatives to help stimulate growth and enable businesses to thrive with new faster digital application processes.
Our corporate and business banking teams are available to discuss any requirements and fully understand that business leaders require swift and proactive engagement when opportunities arise.
M&A activity has not just continued but accelerated in spite of the pandemic. At Bank of Ireland we are excited and energised as we embark on our own M&A journey and the opportunities that will bring.
Three-in-five businesses plan to expand in the near term, with many award winners on a similar pathway.
The strategic focus to identify and negotiate these opportunities, and the operational acumen to integrate the people, processes and systems is a hallmark of strong leadership teams.
With considerable presence in M&A markets in Ireland, Britain, continental Europe and the US, we have significant experience in working with expanding and acquisitive businesses. Business leadership has been tested like never before.
On behalf of Bank of Ireland, I want to congratulate every award winner for the ingenuity and fortitude they have shown in guiding their businesses through these difficult times, and I wish them continued success both in Ireland and around the world.
Nikki Canavan is senior director of origination and market development at Bank of Ireland Corporate Banking