Focus on Cork

Michael Nolan Michael Nolan

Cork is Ireland’s second largest city with a metropolitan population of over 300,000 people. It is home to a diverse range of multinational companies from being the location of the first Ford plant outside of the US, to now being home to some of the biggest names in global business. Apple, EMC, Amazon and Pepsico are some of the big names located in the city with 148 multinationals employing over 32,000 people across a range of industries.

Their attraction to Cork is simple - its talent pool, favourable cost base, value for money and excellent quality of life. With this big influx of global businesses and to better serve the needs of our clients, Grant Thornton opened an office in Cork in 2013 to meet the growing demand for specialist services in advisory, assurance, financial accounting and tax planning. Our Cork  team has grown to 36 people providing expert advice across the Technology, Retail, Agri-food, Construction, Motor and Hospitality sectors. In this piece we outline the benefits of Cork as a destination for Irish companies looking to expand internationally and for international companies looking to create a base in Europe.


The Port of Cork is planning to commence a €100m redevelopment of the port and harbour facilities, doubling the container capacity and ensuring even larger vessels can dock. There is also the existing rail and roadway network, which enables companies to quickly connect to the rest of Ireland.

In 2017 the city will become even more connected. Cork airport which last year handled 2.2 million passengers will commence flights to Boston and New York. This significantly opens the door for greater trade between US and Irish businesses, along with strengthening the relationship with existing US companies who are based in the city. We have seen the effects of this already with several of our clients outlining plans to increase their footprint in Cork.

Indigenous companies

Over the years the city has produced some of the largest indigenous companies in the country: Musgrave Group, Barry’s Tea, Dunnes Stores, Voxpro, Abtran, Dairygold all national names are either based here or originated here. Voxpro is now an international success story with a global presence working with household names. Despite the challenges of Brexit, the agri industry in Cork continues to be a major contributor to the Cork economy and continues to innovate and produce new products.

Cork has become the centre of a vibrant start-up scene, with a number of our clients leveraging off the success of previous companies and are now starting to grow both nationally and internationally.

Industry focus

The economic region around Cork is the undisputed leader as a location for foreign direct investment. A number of business clusters have formed in the life sciences, technology and global business services. The life sciences sector includes Pfizer, GSK, Eli Lilly, Stryker, Novartis, Gilead and GE Healthcare. There are over 50 technology companies including Apple, IBM, Intel, EMC, Redhat, Solarwinds etc. In the Global Business Services BNY Mellon, Clearstream, Amazon, Otterbox all have significant presence within the city.

Hiring staff

The Cork economy has been built on the creation of clusters in the technology, life sciences, food, global business services and marine sectors. To enable these industries to grow, the academic institutions have moved in tandem. UCC’s student population of 19,000 now attend four distinct colleges, a number of which are directly linked to the industries in the city. Similarly CIT has reconfigured its facilities in line with the industries operating in the city ensuring a steady flow of highly qualified graduates to supplement the existing talent pool. Grant Thornton has benefited greatly from this structure as the level of graduates we take in every year has meant that they can be client facing very early in their careers.


Cork is a global city and offers world class services to Irish companies looking to grow, as well as international companies who are looking to setup in Ireland. Grant Thornton is best placed for companies looking to expand their operations to the city. If Cork appeals to you, then make sure to contact one of our Cork team members.