Martin Naughton 'outstanding entrepreneur of his time'

 

GLEN DIMPLEX founder Martin Naughton was described as the “outstanding entrepreneur of his time” yesterday, as he was presented with the export gold medal by the Irish Exporters’ Association.

Addressing the gathering of more than 300 business figures at the annual lunch in the Convention Centre Dublin, Dr Naughton described the evolution of the electrical appliance company he founded in 1973, from a small, indigenously focused company employing 10 people to an international company with more than 10,000 employees.

He stressed the importance of adapting in line with the changing nature of a business. “You can’t run a €10 million business the way you run a €1 million business.”

He also said a belief in the power of brands is something he has learned since his acquisition of Dimplex in 1977.

Glen Dimplex owns a number of the world’s leading electrical appliance brands, such as Morphy Richards, Dimplex, Stoves and Belling.

Past recipients of the gold medal award include Peter Sutherland and Sean Dorgan, former chief executive of the IDA.

Speaking at the annual lunch, chairman of the Irish Exporters’ Association, Mark Fitzgerald, said the problem of weak demand from the domestic consumer was a challenge for exporters as well as for indigenously focused companies.

Pointing out that many successful exporters must first succeed in their domestic markets, he said there is a “real danger that indigenous businesses will be lost”.

He also highlighted two key issues facing the sector: the lack of export credit insurance for businesses trading in higher risk markets; and the non-availability of funds for expansion.

However, he stressed Ireland remains a significant, exporting nation, identifying in particular the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries and the life-science sector as holding huge opportunities for further export growth.