Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Business in Ireland

36%
The percentage turnover accounted for by the Top 50 enterprises

This chapter outlines key statistics for the Irish business economy. Business Demography data was used to analyse the number of enterprises and employment across five sectors: Industry, Construction, Distribution, Services and Financial & Insurance. This data was combined with the Structural Business surveys, which are run annually by CSO.

Table 14.1 Overview of the Business Economy, 2015
 EnterprisesTurnoverPersons employed
Industry17,176€234bn221,797
Construction50,546€15bn108,720
Distribution46,626€148bn345,911
Services127,485€204bn691,772
Financial & Insurance7,009€63bn97,836
Total Business Economy248,842€664bn1,466,036
Source: CSO

In 2015, the business economy in Ireland was worth €664bn and employed 1,466,036 persons in 248,842 enterprises.

The Services sector, which includes communications companies and accommodation, had the largest number of enterprises 127,485.

The Construction and Distribution sectors reported 50,546 and 46,626 enterprises respectively. Industry had 17,176 enterprises while the smallest number of enterprises 7,009, was in the Financial & Insurance field.

For long labels below use
to display on multiple lines
Number of enterprises
Industry17176
Construction50546
Distribution46626
Services127485
Financial and
Insurance
7009
X-axis labelIndustryConstructionDistributionServicesFinancial and Insurance
Turnover by sector- 2015233.815.4148.1203.863.3

The Industrial sector generated the most turnover and contributed €234bn to the economy.

The Services sector had a turnover of €204bn; this was followed by the Distribution sector, which includes wholesale and retail businesses, with turnover of €148bn.

The Financial & Insurance sector generated €63bn turnover and the smallest sector in the business economy in Ireland in 2015 was Construction with turnover of €15bn.

X-axis labelIndustryConstructionDistributionServicesFinancial and
Insurance
Number of persons engaged
by sector
22179710872034591169177297836

The Services sector dominated employment figures with 691,772 persons employed.

Distribution enterprises provided employment for 345,911 persons.

The Industrial sector which includes manufacturing had 221,797 persons engaged.

The business sectors with the lowest number of persons employed in 2015 were Construction with 108,720 and the Financial & Insurance sector, which includes banking, with 97,836 persons employed.

Open in Excel:
X-axis labelSMEs (<250)Large (250+)
Industry101232784490
Construction5468892867
Distribution5907546201
Services72558139692
00
All Sectors70713291677

Gross Value Added (GVA) per person engaged across all sectors averaged €291,677 for Large enterprises and €70,713 for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Large Industrial enterprises reported the highest GVA per person engaged at €784,490 for 2015.

The lowest GVA per person engaged was in Distribution enterprises with 250 or more employees, at €46,201.

 

For long labels below use
to display on multiple lines
GVA by size class
Micro (<10)18.7
Small
(10-49)
10
Medium
(50-249)
10.1
Large
(250+)
61.2

Large enterprises which employ 250 or more persons generated just over 61% of all GVA. 

Small and Medium enterprises combined accounted for just over a further 20% of GVA and the remaining 19% was generated by Micro enterprises that employ less than 10 persons per enterprise. 

Open in Excel:
Table 14.2 Contribution of the 50 largest enterprises by GVA, 2015
 UnitTotal Business Economy1
Business Economy
Turnover€m601,126
Gross value added€m180,400
Gross operating surplus€m126,372
Persons engagedNo.1,368,200
  
Contribution of Top 50 Enterprises  
Turnover%36.4
Gross value added%54.6
Gross operating surplus%59.5
Persons engaged%6.4
1Excludes Financial & Insurance activities
Source: CSO
X-axis labelPersons
Engaged
Turnover
Industry20.568.6
Construction8.118.9
Distribution 16.929.9
Services5.941.3
00
Total Business Economy6.436.4

The Top 50 enterprises in Ireland accounted for 36% of all turnover but just over 6% of persons engaged.

Open in Excel:
Table 14.3 Breakdown of personnel costs in the total business economy1 by size class, 2015
  SMEs(<250)Large (250+)Total
Personnel costs€m36,44217,58654,028
Wages & salaries€m31,83414,88846,722
Social security costs€m4,6082,6987,306
Social security costs as a % of personnel costs%12.615.313.5
Wages and salaries per employee€uro36,35941,71238,811
1The total business economy includes NACE Rev.2 Sections B to N (excluding K) and R92, R93, S95 and S96
Source: CSO

The business economy in Ireland generated €47bn in wages and salaries and a further €7.3bn in social security contributions.

The average spend on wages & salaries per employee is €36,359 in Small & Medium enterprises.

In Large enterprises, which employ 250 or more persons, typically spend is in excess of €41,700 on wages & salaries per employee.

Table 14.4 Number of persons engaged in SMEs by sector, 2009 to 2015
YearConstructionServicesDistributionIndustry FinancialTotal
2009126,642408,133252,140125,21728,932941,064
201099,911397,493242,300115,05229,074883,830
201190,793399,816241,205113,75530,359875,928
201285,667408,920238,959110,62830,244874,418
201386,494419,112239,689109,68830,653885,636
201492,289438,666243,303114,64231,084919,984
2015102,690463,991251,059118,37632,765968,881
Source: CSO
X-axis labelLarge (250+)SMEs (250)
Active enterprises0.299.8
Persons engaged30.969.1
Turnover52.247.8
GVA61.238.8

SMEs accounted for 99.8% of all enterprises and 69% of persons engaged.

They also generated almost 48% of all turnover and 39% of GVA.

The number of persons engaged by SMEs increased by 3% between 2009 and 2015. The largest increases were in the Services sector at 14% and the Financial sector at 13%. The number of persons engaged in the Construction sector decreased by 19% for the same period.

Open in Excel:
Persons EngagedActive enterprises
Mining & quarrying4164405
Manufacturing20004715242
Electricity, gas etc8846515
Water supply etc87401014
Construction10872050546
Motor trade334688621
Wholesale trade9647213493
Retail trade21597124512
Transportation and storage9462225066
Accommodation and food17022218336
Information and communication8759714246
Financial and Insurance978367009
Real estate2472313228
Professional, scientific etc12759140186
Administrative and support12396216423

Retail trade accounted for the largest number of persons engaged at 215,971.

Mining and quarrying accounted for the least amount of persons engaged at 4,164.

Open in Excel:
Table 14.5 Structural business statistics by sector and nationality of ownership, 2015
 Irish-ownedForeign-owned affiliatesAll enterprises
 Owned by EU multinationalsOwned by non-EU multinationalsTotal
Number of enterprises    
Industry116,50442324967217,176
Construction50,4271051411950,546
Distribution45,78457127184246,626
Services (excl. Financials)144,0481,0578141,871145,919
All sectors256,7632,1561,3483,504260,267
Number of persons engaged     
Industry1129,19736,06456,53692,600221,797
Construction106,4692,0741772,251108,720
Distribution261,27453,59831,03984,637345,911
Services (excl. Financials)566,88470,86254,026124,888691,772
All sectors1,063,824162,598141,778304,3761,368,200
Turnover (€millions)     
Industry132,74625,196175,863201,059233,805
Construction13,823##1,53515,358
Distribution99,55722,20326,37548,578148,135
Services (excl. Financials)115,80217,62770,40088,027203,829
All sectors261,928##339,199601,127
GVA (€millions)     
Industry110,0348,84474,23883,08293,116
Construction6,077##996,176
Distribution12,2193,2483,7476,99519,214
Services (excl. Financials)37,7915,69818,40524,10361,894
All sectors66,121##114,279180,400
1Industry covers NACE Rev.2 (05-39) of which Manufacturing (10-33), Construction (41-43), Distribution (45-47) and Services covers NACE Rev. 2 H to N (excluding K) and R92, R93, S95, S96.
#Indicates confidential data
Source: CSO

Figure 14.9 Irish MNEs abroad and foreign MNEs in Ireland, 2015

Statistical Yearbook of Ireland, 2018 FIG 14.9 Irish MNEs abroad and foreign MNEs in Ireland

Foreign multinationals in Ireland employed just under 304,400 persons and generated €339.2bn in turnover.

Foreign-owned enterprises accounted for 56.4% of total turnover and 63.3% of total GVA in the Irish business economy.

Services which includes Distribution accounted for 79% of employment in Irish-owned affiliates abroad.

The average turnover per person engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates was €217.5k.

Turnover per person engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates was lowest in Services.

Figure 14.10 Employment in Irish affilates abroad 2015

 Statistical Yearbook of Ireland, 2018 Figure 14.10 Employment in Irish affiliates abroad 2015         ‌

In 2015, Irish multinationals abroad had turnover in excess of €168 billion, with US and UK affiliates accounting for almost 61% of this. There were nearly 774,000 persons employed in Irish multinationals abroad, 35% of whom were in the US and the UK.

In terms of employment by continent, Europe, Asia and the Americas each accounted for approximately a third of the total, with employment in the remaining regions amounting to 2.3%. 

All Outward Foreign Affiliates data can be accessed on the CSO Databank Service. 

Open in Excel:
Services (ex. Finance)DistributionConstructionManufacturing
United Kingdom54.819.49.216.6
France45.72010.523.8
Spain44.423.27.924.5
Italy38.519.87.834
Germany4018.46.235.5
Ireland 47.2164.232.9

The Services sector accounted for 47.2% of total GVA in Ireland in 2014.

The United Kingdom recorded the highest percentage of total GVA for the Services sector at 54.8%.

Go to next chapter >>>Economy