Morning business news from Zurich - June 9Monday 09 June 2014 10.53
Leading the headlines in the Swiss press today - which is a bank holiday - are concerns that foreign millionaires are buying Swiss property and how last week's moves at the European Central Bank probably will not hurt the Swiss franc. Enterprise Ireland will later this week lead a trade mission to Switzerland to drum up more business for its already 200 plus firms doing business there.
Multihog is one of those Irish exporting firms. It was set up in 2008 in Co Louth and makes small tractor type machines with attachments which can be used as mowers, snow blowers, snow ploughs, sprayers, de-icers, and for spreading salt and grit. One of Multihog's machines cuts the grass at football club FC Basel in the summer months, while it also blows the snow off the club's pitches in the winter months. Multihog's marketing manager Tony Duff says that building a machine like the Multihog is the easy part of the business, selling the device is much harder. He admits the Swiss thought it a little "crazy" buying a machine to clear snow from a country where there is very little snow. The Swiss are very particular when it comes to business and the Swiss market is a complicated one, Mr Duff says. But he adds that the Basel club had done work with other businesses from outside of Switzerland and helped Multihog along the way.
Donard McClean is chairman of SIBA, the Swiss Irish Business Association. Mr McClean says the Swiss are more formal and precise in their approach to business but along with Irish business, share a deep interest and determination to succeed and improve. Both countries compete in the foreign direction investment world and situations arise all the time where both countries are shortlisted for investment from international companies. He says this comes as no surprise as the two countries have a strong interest in the IT, pharmaceutical and financial sectors were a lot of FDI is carried out. A lot of trade in pharmaceuticals is carried out between the two countries as well as computer parts and software. Mr McClean says that the Swiss are willing to pay more for quality products, adding that Ireland makes quality products. Pointing out that the IFSC is the largest services centre for hedge funds in the world, he says that Switzerland is a huge financial economy and it needs solutions. Ireland has the expertise in alternative financial products, which is an expanding area. "We can build the alternative products in Ireland, which will meet the requirements of the Swiss market," he states.