Record 9,358 new companies established in Northern Ireland in 2021

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct
John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct

NORTHERN Ireland hit two record highs for business last year in terms of the number of new company formations and also the overall total of registered companies in the region.

There were 9,358 new company formations compared to 8,477 in 2020, an increase of 10.4 per cent, according to Inform Direct, which harvests data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics.

And the total number of businesses in the north grew to 74,050 at the end of 2021 compared to 70,199 a year earlier, which equates to 5.5 per cent growth.

Most of the new businesses were created in Belfast (2,302), followed by Newry, Mourne & Down (1,260), Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon (1,019), Lisburn & Castlereagh (747) and Derry & Strabane (668).

The fewest new starts were in Fermanagh & Omagh (510).

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct, said: “It’s great that Northern Ireland hit a double record high during 2021, despite the unprecedented uncertainties brought by Covid-19.

“Reaching a record high in the number of new formations, as well as existing companies, demonstrates an active economy with entrepreneurs motivated to invest in new businesses which meet current and emerging demands for goods or services.

“The overall picture for the UK as a whole is also an optimistic one with the total number of companies now exceeding five million for the very first time.”

The UK saw 771,617 new businesses formed, compared to 780,760 in 2020. The overall number of UK companies totalled 5,005,147, a 3.5 per cent increase on the total of 4,837,426 at the end of 2020. This continues a ten-year trend which shows the number of businesses in the UK doubling in that period.

Whilst company formations grew, the number of dissolutions across the UK – 606,912 in 2021 – hit a record high.

Reasons for this may be that new enterprises set up early in the pandemic may no longer be operating as people have returned to full-time employment or businesses thriving pre-Covid have suffered as behavioural and spending patterns have changed.

A more detailed picture of company formations can be viewed at