Tech CEO calls Ireland ‘a challenging environment’

27 Jul 2007

Multinational IT infrastructure company Avocent celebrated its tenth anniversary yesterday by holding its first ever annual meeting outside the US at its 160 employee-strong headquarters in Shannon.

Avocent CEO John R. Cooper said that while the Irish IT industry has progressed significantly since the early 90s, rising costs from within and competition from outside were posing challenges to maintaining itself as a multinational-friendly location.

He said that although manufacturing bases were moving to more cost-friendly locations with cheaper labour forces, it is possible for a multinational to stay firmly rooted in Ireland.

To do this he said they must adapt and change their core operations to fit in with a highly skilled workforce, as Avocent has done.

“Today we have virtually no manufacturing here compared to ten years ago when 75pc of our operations were in manufacturing.

“Now we oversee finance for all Avocent operations outside the US, are the global headquarters for quality assurance and cover all areas of the knowledge-based economy from R&D and supply chain to product marketing, multi-lingual customer care and technical support in addition to running one of the five divisions of the company from Shannon,” he said.

However Cooper warned that they were “operating here in a very challenging environment in Ireland”, adding that there was “plenty of tangible evidence that rising costs are causing many multi-nationals to think of re-locating to cheaper locations.”

As standards of living and the national wage have increased since the early 90s Cooper said that in his opinion the Irish government should be cautious in relation to its wage agreements.

“I doubt that costs in Ireland can continue on the same path of progression that they have been on without getting too high. It is something that Ireland has to be cognisant of.”

By Marie Boran