8,500 new-starts in north during pandemic year - but 4,815 firms dissolved

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEARLY 8,500 new companies were created in Northern Ireland last year - just 200 fewer than 2019 despite the obvious challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

And the overall number of registered companies in the region grew by 5.7 per cent from 66,395 to 70,199, according to the Inform Direct review of company formations, which uses official data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics.

Whilst the total number of businesses grew, there was a small fall in terms of new company formations – 8,477 compared to 8,657 in the previous 12 months.

Belfast formed the most new businesses (2,122), followed by Newry, Mourne and Down (1,268) and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (763).

This was followed by Mid-Ulster (657) and Derry & Strabane (599).

The fewest number of new start-ups was in the Antrim and Newtownabbey borough (443)

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct said: “These figures demonstrate strong growth for the number of registered businesses in Northern Ireland, despite the unprecedented uncertainties brought by Covid-19.

“The slight fall in new company formations underlines how challenging 2020 was for business, resulting in a less conducive environment for entrepreneurs.”

In the UK as a whole, a record number of new companies were formed – 780,766 compared to 690,763 in 2019, which represents an increase of 13 per cent.

The overall number of UK companies also reached a record high, growing to 4,837,426, an 8.2 per cent increase on the total of 4,471,008 at the end of 2019.

The number of company dissolutions across the UK – 418,427 during 2020 – was the lowest since 2015.

In Northern Ireland there were 4,815 companies which wound up, with more than a quarter in September alone.

But it is feared the number of dissolutions will spiral when government support for businesses is eventually withdrawn.

New enterprises set up during the pandemic might also be short-lived, as people return to full-time employment or struggle to take the business to the next level.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access