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South West businesses accounted for five per cent of UK administrations in 2022 – Shakespeare Martineau

South West businesses accounted for just five per cent of administrations in 2022 – the fifth lowest region in the UK – according to analysis by Bristol-based law firm Shakespeare Martineau.

A total of 1,340 businesses, 68 of which came from the South West, filed for administration last year, marking a 56 per cent increase compared to 2021.

Construction, manufacturing and retail were the sectors worst hit, accounting for 39 per cent of administrations.

Greater London led the way with 20 per cent of the filings, followed by the South East and North West (16 per cent each), data from The Gazette Official Public Record has revealed.

While January (55) was the quietest month, administration numbers leapt to 160 in November – the most recorded for 28 months – before dipping to 120, 93 and 104 in April, May and June respectively.

And while administrations are still yet to hit pre-Covid levels (1,794 in 2019), recession fears and the financial pressure on households and businesses means the worst is still yet to come, an insolvency and restructuring expert has warned.

Andy Taylor, partner and head of restructuring at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “The latest statistics show that the true costs of living and doing business are beginning to bite.

“Numerous headwinds – such as the cost of borrowing, and increasing energy, fuel and raw material costs – have become a new normal at this point and businesses are being pulled from every direction. Furthermore, while supportive in the main, pressure from lenders is increasing and HMRC is taking a firmer stance, seeking to cap levels of liability for non-payment of tax.

“While the UK is perilously close to recessional phase, businesses must have a clear focus on cash flow and look to save costs where possible. Directors must continue to plan strategically for the ever higher costs of ‘doing business’.

“For businesses to survive longer term, they will need to act now to address underlying issues. I cannot overstate how important it is to get to grips with matters at the earliest possible juncture and to take the appropriate professional advice, if needed. Taking a proactive approach will provide options and help to keep businesses afloat.

“If things continue as they are, we expect to see an increase in businesses failures as they battle tough trading conditions. However, resilient businesses with a strong balance sheet and with the right planning and oversight in place, may well find opportunities for growth as we head further into 2023.”

Shakespeare Martineau gained a Bristol foothold when it took over GL Law in 2022.

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