City Focus: Dublin

Ollie Mulkerrins
- Leadership - Nov 01, 2019

Nestled in a bay along the east coast of Ireland, Dublin rests at the mouth of the River Liffey. The city is divided by the river between North and South and bordered by an area of the Wicklow mountain range, aptly named the Dublin Mountains. The earliest record of a settlement in the area where the city stands today comes from 140AD, in which a town named Eblana was mentioned in the writings of Ptolemy. Dublin has grown through a lot since then and celebrated its ‘official’ millennium in 1988. Now the population has grown to 1,173,179 in the urban area as of 2016. The natural beauty of the area, like the Great Sugar Loaf mountain and the Greystones bay, along with the bustling nature of the city have produced some of the greatest poets to have ever put pen to paper, like Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats. In recent years, Ireland’s economic policies have helped the city develop into a promising prospect for financial investment, and as a foothold for businesses wishing to trade within the European Union.


During the mid-1990’s to late-2000’s a swell of direct foreign investment saw the economy experience a rapid expansion, which became known as the Celtic Tiger period. Although the property led economic crash in 2008 certainly had a dampening effect on this expansion, the city’s economic resilience led a quick recovery from the global downturn.



Throughout the 1980s, Ireland was considered a poor country by Western standards with many citizens living below the poverty line - employment and inflation were in constant decline. Between 1995 and 2000, the economy expanded by an estimated average of 9.4%, and beyond that continued at a growth of 6.7%. This unprecedented rapid expansion of the Celtic Tiger has been noted as a rare example of a western country achieving such a marked improvement, matching the growth of East Asian nations, most notably the Four Asian Tigers, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

The recession had a considerable impact on the wellbeing of Dublin’s economy. Its GDP contracted 14% by 2011; statistic mirrored by unemployment rates which rose to 14% by 2011. Dublin recovered quickly with the growth rate making a return to 6.7% by 2015.


Many of Dublin’s traditional industries, such as textile manufacturing, brewing and distilling, have experienced a decline in the past few years. That being said, Guinness’ famous 9000-year lease, running since 1759, is sure to see their production continue at the St James’s Gate Brewery for foreseeable future. Economic growth during the 90’s invited pharmaceutical companies and IT developers to the region, which now plays host to giants like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Twitter. Google is the largest private sector employer in the region with more than 6,000 employees. The infographic below, courtesy of IDA Ireland, displays the wealth of tech developers in the city and surrounding area. Hosting so many high-tech developers has earned Dublin the moniker “Tech Capital of Europe”.

Why start a business in Ireland?

Dublin has built a reputation as a welcoming place for new businesses. Its wealth of start-up funding, such as Enterprise Ireland makes it an easy stepping stone for companies looking to get a foothold in Europe. The low levels of bureaucracy and low tax environment also ensure that prospective start-ups are not experiencing unnecessary set-backs during the early days of trading.

This environment has led to Dublin becoming a hub for innovation through world class companies and research in sectors such as ICT, life sciences, gaming, financial services and the food industry. This offers companies access to an experienced and talented workforce, which is the youngest in Europe according to

Ireland is also one of the most connected countries in the world, given its geographical location, ease of transport to Europe, US, Middle East, combined with its membership to the EU and Euro currency provides a gateway into the richest markets available. Its corporation tax is very low too at 12.5%, almost half the OECD average of 24.9%. Through targeted funding and legislation Ireland has put itself at the forefront of the European corporate landscape by offering a welcoming and accessible place for business and Dublin has become a focal point for global progress in a wealth of sectors.





Founded as Development Capital Corporation in 1976, originally a venture capital company catering to start ups, it changed direction during the 1980’s and moved into industrial holdings and became DCC in 1994. It has made significant investments in the oil and gas sector with £88.5mn invested in Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) during 2012, DCC followed this with an agreement with ExxonMobil to acquire the Esso Express petrol station network. Its net income currently sits at £266.9mn and in December 2015 was one of 100 companies listed with the highest market capitalisation on the London Stock Exchange.

Smurfit Kappa

Established in Dublin as a box maker in 1934, they were acquired by Mr Jefferson Smurfit in 1938, trading as Jefferson Smurfit. In 1974 they acquired a partial share of Time Industries, a Chicago-based paper and packaging company. In 1998 the company merged with Stone Container Corporation to become Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation. In 2005, after a management buyout funded by Madison Dearborn Partners, the company merged with Kappa packaging to become Smurfit Kappa in 2005. It has a net income of £564.3mn, employing 45,000 people across its business network.

Google Docks Campus

The tech giant has built new offices in Sandford, expanding on its presence in Dublin. The four-building campus in the heart of the docklands district has become the hub for employees from 65 countries speaking 45 languages and working in marketing, finance and engineering. The campus has been dubbed Google Docks after the popular browser-based document hosting platform and its position within the city. Sustainability is a key part of the organisation and the unit is looking to achieve its LEED accreditation in the near future.

For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe

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