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Business Performance in Ireland

Business Performance in Ireland

GVA per person engaged averaged €65,044 for Irish-owned enterprises in 2020

CSO statistical publication, , 11am

The performance of business in Ireland in 2020 was examined using a number of performance indicators. The Structural Business Surveys1 were used to compile the data.

Labour productivity, personnel costs as a percentage of gross value added (GVA) and enterprise profitability were analysed. The contribution of the 50 largest enterprises, both in terms of GVA and employment were also examined.

GVA represents the value of the goods and services produced, in this case, in the Irish business economy. A simple measure of productivity is to analyse GVA by the number of persons engaged. The relatively large multinational sector in Ireland and the consequent assignment of value added to the Irish economy, can make the interpretation of indicators like GVA per person engaged more difficult.

Care should be taken when looking at the results for micro-sized enterprises. This size class covers enterprises with less than 10 persons engaged. This also includes enterprises that officially have no persons engaged assigned to them, but in some cases have significant economic value. In Figure 4.3, we can see that personnel costs relative to GVA are lower for micro enterprises than for other SMEs.

1The surveys used were Census of Industrial Production (CIP), Building and Construction Inquiry (BCI) and Annual Services Inquiry (ASI). Financial and Insurance activities were excluded from this analysis.

Gross Value Added (GVA) at Factor Cost

GVA at factor cost is the gross income from operating activities after adjusting for operating subsidies and indirect taxes. See Appendix 2.

GVA per Person Engaged by Size Class

  • GVA per person engaged averaged €172,501 for all enterprises in the Irish non-financial business economy in 2020. When considering just Irish-owned enterprises, the average GVA per person was €65,044
  • In 2020, small Irish-owned enterprises (10-49 persons engaged) reported GVA per person engaged of €49,573, while medium Irish-owned enterprises (50-249 persons engaged) reported €65,670 GVA per person engaged
  • GVA per person engaged for large Irish-owned enterprises (250+ persons engaged) was €89,592 but rose to €357,529 when foreign-owned large enterprises were included
X-axis labelIrish-ownedAll enterprises
Micro (<10
persons engaged)
6465298848
Small (10-49
persons engaged)
4957365620
Medium (50-249
persons engaged)
6567093987
Large (250+
persons engaged)
89592357529
All size classes65044172501

GVA per Person Engaged by Sector and Size Class

  • In 2020, GVA per person engaged averaged €357,529 for large enterprises and €87,088 for SMEs (<250 persons engaged) in the Irish non-financial business economy
  • Industrial enterprises reported the largest GVA per person engaged for both SMEs and large enterprises at €121,691 and €853,462 respectively
  • In the Services sector, the average GVA per person engaged for large firms was €234,310 compared with €97,225 for SMEs in 2020
  • In the Construction sector, the average GVA per person engaged in large enterprises was €97,157, while in SMEs it was €46,803
  • In 2020, the Distribution sector reported an average GVA per person engaged of €77,869 for large enterprises compared with €70,347 for SMEs
X-axis labelSMEs (<250 persons engaged)Large (250+ persons engaged)
All sectors87088357529
Industry121691853462
Construction4680397157
Distribution7034777869
Services97225234310

Personnel Costs as a Percentage of GVA by Size Class

  • In 2020, personnel costs accounted for 21.7% of GVA across all enterprises. For Irish-owned enterprises, it was 46.3%
  • Personnel costs for small Irish-owned enterprises amounted to 67.7% of GVA
  • Personnel costs accounted for almost half (58.9%) of GVA for large Irish-owned enterprises in 2020. When large foreign-owned enterprises were also included, personnel costs declined to just 13.8% of GVA
X-axis labelIrish-ownedAll enterprises
Micro (<10
persons engaged)
29.220.4
Small (10-49
persons engaged)
67.756
Medium (50-249
persons engaged)
55.247.5
Large (250+
persons engaged)
48.913.8
All size classes46.321.7

Personnel Costs as a Percentage of GVA by Sector and Size Class

  • In 2020, personnel costs as a percentage of GVA averaged 36.9% for SMEs and 13.8% for large enterprises in the Irish non-financial business economy
  • Large Industrial enterprises paid 6.9% of GVA in personnel costs compared with 48.3% for SMEs in the Industry sector
  • The Distribution sector had the least disparity in personnel costs as a percentage of GVA. Approximately €2 was paid out in personnel costs for every €5 of gross value added for both SMEs and large enterprises (41.1% and 40.2% respectively)
X-axis labelSMEs (<250 persons engaged)Large (250+ persons engaged)
All sectors36.913.8
Industry48.36.9
Construction51.166.1
Distribution41.140.2
Services30.522

Gross Operating Surplus (GOS)

GOS is the surplus generated by operating activities after the labour factor input has been recompensed. See Appendix 2.

GOS as a Percentage of Turnover by Size Class

  • For all enterprises in the Irish non-financial business economy, more than one-quarter (26.4%) of turnover was reported as GOS in 2020
  • For Irish-owned enterprises only, GOS was 17.0% of turnover
  • The highest rate of GOS as a percentage of turnover was reported by large enterprises (32.8%)
X-axis labelIrish-ownedAll enterprises
Micro (<10
persons engaged)
24.126.6
Small (10-49
persons engaged)
7.99.6
Medium (50-249
persons engaged)
13.414.1
Large (250+
persons engaged)
19.832.8
All size classes1726.4

GOS as a Percentage of Turnover by Sector and Size Class

  • For SMEs in 2020, GOS was the equivalent of 17.6% of turnover. For large enterprises, it was 32.8% of turnover
  • The Industrial sector had the largest disparity by size class when analysing GOS relative to turnover. Large Industrial enterprises reported a GOS which represented 42.6% of their turnover, compared with 15.4% for Industrial SMEs
  • The Services sector generated the largest GOS as a percentage of turnover for SMEs in 2020 at 30.1%
X-axis labelSMEs (<250 persons engaged)Large (250+ persons engaged)
All sectors17.632.8
Industry15.442.6
Construction13.69
Distribution7.711.9
Services30.125.3

Top 50 Enterprises in the Business Economy

  • In 2020, the 50 largest enterprises in the business economy by GVA accounted for 46.4% of total turnover, 59.7% of total GVA and 73.2% of GOS. These Top 50 enterprises accounted for only 5.5% of all persons engaged
  • The 50 largest enterprises in the business economy by employment accounted for 32.5% of total turnover, 30.0% of total GVA, and 34.2% of GOS
  • Industry stands out in terms of its reliance upon a small number of high value-added enterprises. In 2020, the 50 largest enterprises in Industry by GVA accounted for 80.4% of total turnover, 88.0% of total GVA, and 95.0% of GOS for the sector
X-axis labelTop 50 by Gross value addedTop 50 by employment
Gross operating surplus73.234.2
Gross value added59.730
Turnover46.432.5
4.1 Contribution of 50 largest enterprises by GVA and employment within sector, 2020

4.2 Gross value added per person engaged by sector and size class, 2020