The Eurozone Edge!

18th November 2019

Posted In: The Topic

Amid economic uncertainty around Brexit, a new Enterprise Ireland programme aims to help Irish businesses find new markets in the Eurozone.

Words: Ruth Doris

The region’s 340 million population represents significant untapped opportunities for Irish companies. Launched last month {October} with 20 Irish businesses, the five-phase Enter the Eurozone programme, held in Dublin, Paris and Berlin, will help to open the region’s doors to indigenous companies that currently have no significant presence in a Eurozone market.  Delivered in partnership with Berlin-based European School of Management and Technology, and led by Galway-based IMS Marketing, each participating company will receive access to industry experts to advise and support them in developing a Eurozone market entry plan.

Commenting on the programme, Keelin Fagan, Head of Client Learning and Development at Enterprise Ireland, says that at a time of uncertainty for Irish businesses, it will help companies who rely mainly on the UK for their export business to pivot towards the Eurozone market.  “Enterprise Ireland has found that entry into new markets is a repeatable process. By partnering with ESMT Berlin and IMS Marketing Galway, we build a new market entry plan with clients. This plan shows Irish companies a step by step approach to winning their first significant contract in the Eurozone.”  Besides the advantage of a common currency, the Eurozone market has other benefits for Irish businesses including similar regulations and standards — ensuring that  “products and services from Ireland are ‘good to go’” —  geographical proximity, and a growing and diverse customer base.

Keelin says that all of the 20 participating companies already have an established business model and are selling in the Irish, UK or US markets. The programme will enable them to translate their success into markets in the Eurozone. Companies were chosen from across the country and sectors including digital, fintech, electronics, consumer, construction, cleantech, engineering and life sciences. The programme which is open to all Enterprise Ireland clients looking to secure their first significant contract within the Eurozone will run again in early 2020.

Elaine Ralph, SuperDisty

SuperDisty is one of the participating companies in this first cohort. CEO and co-founder, Elaine Ralph (pictured left), describes her business as a software as a service (SaaS) solution providing manufacturers and distributors with a cost-effective way to grow their online business through Amazon’s vendor platform. “The software automates, integrates and manages the business processes associated with growth providing seamless integration to a company’s existing ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.”

She says the system is based on extensive experience and designed to immediately increase online revenue and minimise risks. With customers based in Ireland, the UK and Australia, 65% of SuperDisty’s revenue is from overseas.  Elaine says the unpredictability around Brexit presents significant challenges as SuperDisty relies on its customers’ Brexit plans. Its products are SaaS model and don’t need to be physically shipped. However, SuperDisty manages the automation of its customers’ supply process, which means it aligns to their requirements.

SuperDisty has designed a flexible tool to assist with the application of taxes and duties for clients, if required. Elaine expects the programme to help with identifying and assessing “key framework conditions that may favour or impede the effective deployment of our solution in selected European markets.”

Some markets pose challenges due to lack of presence in the country, language barriers and a gap in knowledge for specific regions, she says.  “The main objectives for us is to identify a comprehensive, balanced and coherent set of preliminary technical, market, legal and socioeconomic assessments which will validate the viability of SuperDisty in those markets. This is crucial to better understand the specific market context and the consequent needs and demands of emerging users, consumers and trends.”

“Our end goal is to bring SuperDisty as a new SaaS to researched markets. This may require innovative approaches to our existing business processes and this programme will help us identify those and adjust accordingly.”

Abbeylands is also taking part in the Enter the Eurozone programme. The company’s managing director, Caroline Horgan took over her family’s now 40-year-old furniture manufacturing business two decades ago, pivoting the company towards

Caroline Horgan, Abbeylands Furniture

interior furnishings. Under its flagship brand, Scatter Box, Abbeylands designs, manufactures and supplies luxury cushions, upholstered furniture, original art, curtains, bedding and throws. The company’s primary export market is in the UK, with a small number of customers within mainland Europe.  While geographically the company may be at a small disadvantage, Abbeylands has an excellent logistics service that will enable it to continue exporting, Caroline says. However, she is concerned about by the uncertainty around Brexit as the company has almost daily deliveries to the UK and delays could mean loss of sales.

Retail customers tend to place regular small orders due to lack of storage space, so the added cost of customs could have an impact on shipments. While they are exploring other options, the company is holding off on making major decisions until a clear deal between the UK and EU has been reached. Having learned an early lesson when the company attempted to enter the UK market without knowledge of demographics and no sales channel, she would not enter into a new market without conducting extensive research. Caroline believes that Scatter Box is an ideal brand for the European market, and hopes that the Enter the Eurozone programme will help Abbeylands to create a successful market entry plan.

(Main Picture: At the start of phase one of ‘Enter the Eurozone’ are L-R: Keelin Fagan, Head of Client Learning & Development, Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland and Anne Lanigan, Regional Director, Eurozone, Enterprise Ireland).  You can find out more about ‘Enter the Eurozone’ programme here>>