Business

Early stage Northern Ireland firms fastest growing in UK

Companies in Northern Ireland reach £1m faster than other parts of the UK

COMPANIES in Northern Ireland reach turnover of £1 million faster than any other part of the UK, according to new research.

The Enterprise Research Centre said private firms in the north are more like to see sales reach seven figures in their first three years that anywhere in Britain.

Its latest UK Local Growth Dashboard showed 3.7 per cent of firms started in 2012 had recorded £1m revenue by 2015.

The figure was more than twice the UK average (1.8 per cent) while Belfast performed even better with 4.4 per cent of companies eclipsing the £1m mark.

But while growth in firms' early stages is faster, it slows down in the following years relative to Britain.

Just 4.4 per cent go on to achieve £3m turnover by their sixth birthday compared to a 6.2 per cent UK average.

And the ERC said Northern Ireland had the lowest start-up rate of anywhere in the UK at 20.6 per 10,000 people compared to an overall average rate of 45.7 per cent.

Meanwhile the region has the weakest job creation rates in the UK qadding just 4,367 in the private sector in 2014-15.

ERC deputy director Professor Mark Hart said: “What we see in the growth dashboard is that firm growth and job creation is spread right across the UK and is not limited to a few cities or regions.

“Nor is it restricted to certain types of ‘fashionable' high-growth firms - there's a complex growth pipeline of companies in every corner of the country that have different support needs based on their individual ambitions.

“This is incredibly important to understand if we're going to create an industrial strategy that capitalises on the strengths we already have without over-focusing on star firms, or regions labelled as ‘powerhouses'.”

On the impact of the decision for the UK to leave the EU, he added: “While the Brexit vote has created uncertainty for SMEs, our research shows that the most innovative firms find ways to grow despite shocks to the economy - chiefly by focusing on their productivity and looking to export markets to provide new opportunities."

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