East Anglia posts record year for new businesses

Ipswich-based Inform Direct's operations director John Korchak

John Korchak, operations director at Inform Direct - Credit: Photo: Keith Mindham

The East hit record highs for new company formations in 2020 - despite the economic challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, figures show.

A total of 5,006 companies were formed in Norfolk , 5,105 in Suffolk and a bumper 19,277 in Essex.

Essex came fifth in a national league table compiled by Inform Direct, a company secretarial and formation specialist based in Ipswich, after London in first place, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

Norfolk came 37th in a league table and Suffolk 35th. The statistics were collated by Inform Direct using data from  Companies House and the Office for National Statistics.

The statistics are taken from the Inform Direct Review of Company Formations using data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics.

The number of new companies  registered in Norfolk compared to 4,731 during 2019, representing an increase of 5.8%.

That brought the total number of registered companies in Norfolk to 41,185 in 2020, up from 38,911 at the end of 2019, which equates to 5.8% growth. 

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Meanwhile, Suffolk's 5,105 new companies registered compared to 4,518 during 2019, representing a rise of 13%.

This brings the total number of registered companies in Suffolk to 39,507, up from 36,907 at the end of 2019 - which represents 7% growth.

Norwich formed the highest number of new businesses in Norfolk (1,273), followed by King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (777) and Breckland (706).

In Suffolk, Ipswich formed the highest number of new businesses (1,243), followed by Suffolk Coastal (821) and St Edmundsbury (708).

John Korchak, operations director at Inform Direct, said the figures were "excellent news" for both counties amid economic uncertainties - but also a sign of the times as more employees were made redundant as a result of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

“Many of the new company formations are in the retail sector, with a large number of new businesses set up to sell goods online or locally, thereby taking advantage of customers’ changing shopping habits.

"Secondly, the effect of the pandemic and national lockdowns means that sadly some existing businesses have folded and employees made redundant, and we see many of those people setting up new ventures on their own as an alternative way to earn a living," he said.

"2020 was a year like no other for UK businesses. Although we can look forward to a brighter future with the vaccination programme, there remain unknown factors such as how quickly the economy will recover and of course the impact of Brexit.”

The UK as a whole saw a record-breaking 780,766 new businesses formed, compared to 690,763 in 2019, the Inform Direct study found.

The overall number of UK companies rose to 4,837,426 - an 8.2% increase on the total of 4,471,008 at the end of 2019.

At the same time the number of company dissolutions  during 2020 across the UK at 418,427 was the lowest since 2015.

Inform Direct suggested it remained "open to debate" whether this positive trend would last beyond the period when government support was in place.

"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, it said.