A businessman on Budget 2019: 'Devil is in the detail of SME loan scheme'

My budget: Furniture manufacturer Finline notes SME loan scheme

Kieran Finane of Finline Furniture in his factory in Emo, Co Laois. Photograph: Bryan Meade

Kieran Finane of Finline Furniture in his factory in Emo, Co Laois. Photograph: Bryan Meade


Brexit was the focus for Ciarán Finane of Ireland’s largest sofa manufacturer, Finline Furniture.

The Laois company has showrooms in Dublin, Cork and Galway and employs about 50 people directly and another 15 indirectly. Established in 1979, the business has been exporting to the UK since 1992, although it has significantly reduced UK exports in recent times.

Finane, the group’s sales director, watched the budget unfold with interest. “We are thinking of maybe stockpiling raw material that we get from the UK, maybe six months’ worth,” he said.

He noted the Minister for Finance’s reference to an SME loan scheme but “the devil will be in the detail there”. Finane is concerned about the criteria for the loans and whether companies like his would be eligible to use the money for Brexit preparations such as stockpiling. He believes that the scheme could run out of funds in a short space of time.

Podcast: Budget 2019

In relation to the VAT hike for the tourism and hospitality sector, Finane said: “I think the tourism sector should have been thankful for having that for so long.”

He believes the minimum wage increase is necessary because the cost of living in Ireland is so high.

But, overall, it was a budget with no nasty surprises or welcome windfalls.

Finane would have liked to have seen something done in relation to Ireland’s reliance on its low corporation tax rate. He believes there is a “massive over-reliance on corporation tax in Ireland”.

“I don’t think there is any incentive for companies not to move out.” He believes there should have been “something to offset that over-reliance” in case the tax rate changes.