Belfast Telegraph

Over 5,000 new businesses 'died' in Northern Ireland last year

By Clare Weir

Over 5,000 businesses 'died' in Northern Ireland last year, according to new statistics which also showed that one in four new firms folded before they were two years old.

The Money Advice Trust and Advice NI, two charities which run Business Debtline Northern Ireland, said that the figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate that many small business owners are leaving it too late to seek advice over their money woes.

The 5,120 'business deaths' or de-registrations in 2013 compared to 4,855 business 'births' in the same year, while 880 businesses closed in Belfast last year, compared to 1,040 new firms registered.

Looking at the two-year 'death' rate, 26% of firms did not survive to see their second birthday last year.

The Moyle area showed the highest rate of unsuccessful new businesses with a whopping 33% of new starts not passing the two-year mark.

Thirty-two per cent of new firms in Newry and Mourne, 31% in Larne and 30% in Cookstown were de-registered within 24 months.

However, Moyle also saw the lowest level of business deaths in 2013 at 50, and also the lowest level of business births at 45.

North Down, Londonderry and Craigavon all saw more than 200 business deaths each last year.

Bob Stronge, chief executive at Advice NI, said that while most businesses can usually expect a boom in the lead-up to Christmas, many businesses return to an ongoing cycle of debt and cash flow issues once the festive season is over.

"With the start of the year statistically bringing an increase in unpaid invoices, many business owners come to the conclusion that they have no alternative but to take steps to cease trading," he said.

"But this is not always the case and I would encourage any local business owners who are struggling to seek help as soon as possible to overcome their debt problems."

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said that small businesses play a crucial role in Northern Ireland's economy.

Business Debtline recently launched a new website.

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