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Net increase in number of active North East firms

The number of active businesses in the North East rose by more than three per cent during 2019, according to new research by trade body R3.

The number of active firms based in the North East rose from 82,800 in January 2018 to 85,600 at the start of this year, an increase of 2800.

The increase is slightly lower than from 2017 to 18, when there were just under 3000 more active businesses in the region.

Surprisingly, the pub and restaurant sector saw the biggest percentage increase in the North East, with a 12 per cent rise year on year.

Despite difficult conditions on the high street, the region also saw a net increase of almost 400 retail business during 2019, rising from 4900 to 5300 at the start of this year.

Elsewhere, there was growth in the construction sector, with the totally number of active companies rising to 11,300 and in the manufacturing sector.

The figures were compiled by R3 using Bureau van Dijk’s ‘Fame’ database of UK companies.

Andrew Haslam, chair of R3 in the North East and head of specialist business advisory firm FRP’s Newcastle office, said: “2019 was a year of uncertainty on a wide range of fronts, but the North East continued to demonstrate its entrepreneurial spirit and its commitment to turning business ideas into commercial operations.

“Our leisure industries are continuing to lead the way, and the continuing investment in creating and upgrading hotels, bars and restaurants right across the region shows the optimism that leisure operators have about their future prospects.

“The net increase in businesses inevitably hides the fact that a significant number of regional firms will have succumbed to financial difficulties last year, while many others will have struggled just to keep their heads above water and will still be in this position as 2020 gets underway.

“Any business owner/managers who can see financial problems on the horizon should look for qualified advice on how they might be addressed as soon as they can.”