Cork digital marketing agency Granite on battling inflation and sourcing talent – Irish Examiner

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Rob Carpenter, director and co-founder of Granite, Conor Buckley, the firm’s CEO, and Seamus White, director and co-founder at Granite.
SMEs are a leading employer in Ireland and are struggling with rising costs and retaining talent. Cork’s digital marketing agency Granite is no exception. 
“Inflation is eating up everything from a margin perspective at our end,” said co-founder and director of Granite Rob Carpenter.
The company raised its prices at the end of last year, however, surging inflation has made this decision redundant.
“We’re actually in a position now we might have to review it again in Q3, because we can’t absorb all those costs,” said the company’s chief financial officer William Hogan.
“With inflation, it’s all about confidence. And once people’s confidence is affected, a lot of things come from that. People might be thinking, do I really need to change this, or will I wait six months. So it all has a knock on effect,” he added.
Meanwhile, Brexit has remained a smaller lingering nuisance for the expanding firm.
Last year, Granite was in the process of acquiring a UK-based company but due to a number of reasons, including Brexit, the deal never happened.
Other SMEs may end up backing out of deals with the UK this year as well as the ESRI recently suggested in a new report that businesses may want to hold off on investment activity in the UK until talks, especially around the Northern Ireland Protocol, stabilise. For now though, Brexit is not proving to be too much of an issue for Granite.
“So far, with the UK clients that we have, we don’t have too many issues there. Sterling has gone the right way for us in the short term. Like last year, we got a bit of a hammering, but this year, it seems to have gone the right way,” said Mr Hogan.
The firm, which has a client list that includes Pepsi, Pfizer and Knock Airport, is looking to open an office in the UK to attract more clients. Yet, this is not too much of a priority, as remote working gave the firm an advantage.
“We’ve picked up a lot more business in the UK, in the US as well, just from being able to pitch for business remotely. So it kind of worked in our favour,” said Mr Carpenter. 
But what we do see as something that we will need to do in the future, with the current situation around Brexit, is we will need to have an operation in the UK. It’s not likely to be this year, mostly more likely next year.”
He explained he wanted to have boots on the ground in the UK in order to “grow and cement relationships”.
Gaining more staff for that office could be another obstacle though for the company though. 
“Our sector is quite hot from a talent perspective and the salaries that can be demanded out there. And lots of organisations are fully giving that option to work remotely 100% of the time. So you’re looking to compete in that space,” Mr Carpenter said.
In addition, offering a hybrid working scenario has its downfalls as well as both Mr Hogan and Mr Carpenter agreed that more time is being spent creating a collaborative work environment remotely compared with being in the office.
“You just have to work a bit harder to get that same level of collaboration, and particularly from a design perspective,” said Mr Carpenter.

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News and analysis on business, money and jobs from Munster and beyond by our expert team of business writers.




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