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Introduction, Main Findings & Overview

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CSO releases thematic e-publication on the Irish Business Economy

Greater range of business statistics now available

  • Over 99% of enterprises are SMEs but they generated just under half (49.6%) of Gross Value Added (the value of goods & services produced in the economy)
  • The Top 50 enterprises by value generated 40% of business economy value added, while only accounting for 6% of employment
  • In 2014, 16,256 enterprises were created, with 20,080 enterprises ceasing activity in 2013

The Central Statistics Office today has released the thematic “Business in Ireland 2014” e-publication. This publication outlines the key statistics for the Irish business economy in 2014.  Business Demography data (largely based on administrative data from the Revenue Commissioners) are used to analyse the number of enterprises and employment across the five sectors of Industry, Construction, Distribution, Services and Financial & Insurance.  This data is combined with the Structural Business surveys, which are run annually by CSO.

Commenting on the publication, Senior Statistician Keith McSweeney said “Today’s publication provides a wealth of information on the structure of the business economy in Ireland. The publication is based on the latest Business Demography and Structural Business Survey statistics, which contain a range of methodological improvements. More enterprises are being estimated for now and better estimates are available for some indicators. Overall, the new series is a clear improvement in the quality and range of business statistics available.

This publication provides answers to many key policy questions, such as:

  • the impact of SMEs on the Irish business economy -  over 99% of enterprises but contributed just under half of Gross Value Added
  • the impact of Foreign-owned enterprises – accounting for over half (52%) of GVA in the Irish non-financial business economy
  • how concentrated is business economy value add creation in Ireland – the Top 50 enterprises by value, generated 40% of value added in 2014
  • how does the Irish business economy measure up internationally in key areas like productivity  - productivity heavily influenced by the Foreign multinational sector
  • typical survival rates for new enterprises – around 85% of enterprises survived one year in business, with around 65% surviving 5 years
  • a range of other interesting findings”


The CSO would like to acknowledge and thank the many enterprises who completed their enterprise survey questionnaires. Without this extensive cooperation, this publication and a range of other important statistics would not be available. The CSO also wishes to acknowledge the contribution of the Revenue Commissioners, as the information provided by Revenue to the CSO is of critical importance in compiling these necessary outputs. All such administrative data provided is only used for statistical purposes, and we think you see the fruits of this data sharing in this very informative publication. 

Contact details

For more information contact our Results & Analysis section at 021-4535584 or alternatively by emailing

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SMEs (<250)Large (250+)
Active enterprises99.78425932532770.215740674672297
Persons engaged68.949277181664331.0507228183357
  • Large enterprises employed over 31% of the total persons engaged and accounted for 0.2% of the total number of enterprises. These enterprises accounted for just over half (50.4%) of total GVA.  
  • SMEs accounted for 99.8% of the total number of enterprises and just under 69% of the total persons engaged. These enterprises accounted for just under half (49.6%) of total GVA. 
  • The number of enterprise births in 2014 were above 2008 levels, having reached its highest level (17,845 enterprise births) in 2009. 
  • Enterprise deaths reached its highest level in 2013 (20,080 enterprise deaths) for the 2008 - 2013 period. The number of enterprise deaths in 2013 increased marginally over the 2008 level (4.8% higher).
  • During the period 2008 - 2013, 2013 showed the largest difference between the number of enterprise deaths and births with 6,255 more enterprise deaths.
Irish-ownedAll enterprises
Micro <1066122.820076453573932.7751035832
Small 10-4943629.993088484152972.9804326027
Medium 50-24945602.868759022859000.0979705359
Large 250+79890.400441325169439.095838922
All size classes58645.826038631992569.6467038822
  • Gross Value Added per person engaged averaged €92,570 for all enterprises in the Irish non-financial business economy in 2014, while Irish-owned enterprises averaged €58,646. The non-financial business economy covers the sectors of Industry, Services (excluding Financial Services), Distribution and Construction.
  • GVA per person engaged generally increased in line with enterprise size, with the exception of Micro enterprises.
  • Small enterprises reported GVA per person of €52,973, which increased to €59,000 for Medium enterprises and peaked at €169,439 for Large enterprises. 
Top 50 by employmentTop 50 by GVA
Gross operating surplus16.543759210962662.6
  • The Top 50 enterprises in the business economy by GVA accounted for 29.2% of total Turnover, 40.3% of total GVA and 62.6% of Gross Operating Surplus. These Top 50 enterprises only accounted for 6.4% of all persons engaged.
  • The Top 50 enterprises in the business economy by employment accounted for 14.7% of total Turnover, 15.4% of total GVA and 16.5% of Gross Operating Surplus.
  • Industry stands out in terms of its reliance on a small number of high value added enterprises. The 50 largest enterprises in Industry by GVA accounted for 52.4% of total Turnover, 68.5 % of total GVA and 81.7% of Gross Operating Surplus for the sector.


Figure 1.5 Irish MNEs abroad and foreign MNEs in Ireland, 2014

Figure 1.5hhhhhhh

  • In 2014, Irish multinationals employed almost 308,000 persons in Foreign affiliates. These affiliates generated Turnover of €99.3 billion.  
  • By contrast, Foreign multinationals employed just over 316,300 persons in affiliates in Ireland. These affiliates generated Turnover of €242.8 billion.


Gross Value Added
Czech Republic42.3345809838036
EU28 (2013)23.9330149620067
Bosnia and Herzegovina16.8289208120622
  • Ireland rated highly in Gross Value Added contributions from Foreign-owned enterprises to the overall non-financial business economy in 2014, at 52.1% of total GVA. This is in comparison to an EU average of 23.9% in 2013.
  • Other countries which ranked high for the impact of Foreign-owned enterprises include Hungary (52.7%) and Luxembourg (47.0%), with larger economies like Germany (21.9%) and France (16.0%) having lower shares.


Show Table: 1.1 Main Indicators for all business sectors, 2014

The individual surveys used to compile this report can be accessed here