Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland firms dealing with hardships of the economy

By David Elliott

A key measure of the health of the Northern Ireland economy has shown that companies here have been able to weather the difficult economic conditions over the last quarter.

The number of companies classified as being in "critical financial distress" stood at just 41 in the third quarter of the year, a 61% fall on the same time last year, according to research from Begbies Traynor.

That was the biggest improvement of all UK regions in its Red Flag report with only the north east of England, which saw a fall of 44%, coming close to matching Northern Ireland's turnaround. And it seems that recovery for London's economy, which had been outpacing the rest of the UK, is slowing, according to Begbies Traynor partner Julie Palmer.

"While the capital's business community has ploughed through the recession like a proverbial freight train, it seems that London's micro-economy has now slowed to a more leisurely pace," she said.

"But the regional recovery has gathered enough momentum over the past three months to keep the UK economy on the growth track."

When it comes to the UK as a whole, the number of businesses in critical distress fell again to 2,951, a 28% slide on the same period in 2012.

Food and beverage manufacturers have seen the biggest improvement of 64%, wholesaling up 10%, media up 9% and financial services up 1%.

"Following a well-documented second and third quarter surge for the UK services sector, this positive momentum masks a worrying picture among the industry's SMEs," Julie Palmer said.

"While transactional volumes have picked up across the sectors, they have remained at historically low levels, meaning that smaller, people businesses have struggled to maintain market share during the fallow summer months in the face of competitive pressure for new business from their larger peers."

The Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert measures corporate distress signals, drawing on factual legal and financial data from a wide range of relevant sources for companies that have been trading for over a year.

The release refers to the numbers of companies experiencing 'critical' problems which are those with CCJs totalling over £5,000 within a three month period or winding-up petitions against them or which have entered corporate voluntary arrangements.

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