Please give an overview of your sector?
The hardware and building industry in Ireland has recovered in recent years following the devastating effects of the collapse of the construction industry in 2008. The Hardware Association Ireland Business Index indicates growth on average of 10% year-on-year since 2013.
Hardware retail provides rewarding career opportunities including trade counter sales, retail management and product-specific specialist roles, and training and development is widely invested by employers, showing their commitment to their employees. Hardware supply and manufacturing offer a variety of roles from technical roles to sales representatives.
The hardware industry in Ireland is dominated by indigenous Irish businesses, and most firms are independent businesses rather than chain-based enterprises. They form an essential part of local communities nationwide.
The sector generates employment of 19,000 persons, wages and salaries of nearly €588mn and a tax contribution of close to €377mn in Ireland.
What is the size and scope of the sector?
The hardware industry in Ireland accounts for both Home Improvement/DIY (direct to consumer) and the merchant trade (direct to contractor/tradesman) sectors. Its scope includes hardware and building materials retail, supplier and manufacturing parts of the supply chain.
The retail sector generates sales of close to €1.2bn, nearly 8,400 jobs and more than €200mn in wages and salaries*, and it is one of the larger sub-sectors of the wider retail sector in Ireland.
The hardware supply and manufacturing sectors contribute an estimated further 10,627 jobs and wages and salaries of almost €384mn.
What are the current issues affecting this sector?
Political factors like Brexit and its impact (trade barriers, WTO tariffs, currency fluctuations, border controls with the UK, possible immigration which could impact job availability).
Economic – Residential construction to meet demand slow and centred on main urban centres.
Socio-cultural – More Irish people returning to the state as economy recovers, shift of hardware/DIY industry to female and younger consumers.
Technological – Online retail will continue to grow, challenging bricks and mortar retailers, lack of rural broadband and speed of connection presents challenge.
What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years
Large-scale online retailers like Screwfix and Amazon are going to continue to be a challenge for retailers, while Brexit and its potential results are certain to have an impact on trade.
There will also be growth in opportunities for those with digital marketing/social media skills as more sales are being driven from online platforms which we expect will grow over the next five years. The sector at large is expected to invest more in online trade and digital skills to remain competitive which will bring more opportunities and innovation.
Some 2,000 jobs could be created in the hardware sector between now and 2020 as the Republic’s robust economic performance coupled with the housebuilding recovery drive growth in the sector.
Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?
- Location of retail businesses - Urban: 57%, Rural 43%
- Average Earnings – €21k (entry level) up to €48k+ Senior level
- 78% of HAI members intend to hire full-time staff in 2018, while 4% intend to hire part-time staff.
Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?
Product knowledge is a consistently deficient area and especially for new recruits to the industry. Most employers use on-the-job training and development including online and classroom-based training. Manufacturers (on an individual basis) provide training directly to retailers and those who are part of a buying group.
Online/IT skills, particularly in social media have a noted shortage, with many businesses in the sector struggling to compete with the emergence of online retailers and competitors with a growing online presence.
Soft skills like sales and customer service require updating because of the technical nature of the industry and the constantly growing and changing demands of modern customers.