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Record Surge in UK Business Start-ups Signals Resilience Amid Economic Challenges

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In a testament to the resilience of the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit, newly released data reveals that over 900,000 new companies were incorporated in 2023, marking a historic high for business formation in the country.

The surge in start-ups has propelled the total number of active businesses in the UK to 5.31 million, setting yet another record and indicating a burgeoning population of entrepreneurs despite the backdrop of challenging economic conditions characterized by heightened inflation and escalating operational expenses.

Notably, the online retail sector led the charge in driving growth, witnessing the inception of over 82,000 new ventures. Additionally, the property letting market saw a substantial influx of 49,000 new businesses, while the emergence of 21,000 takeaway and street food stands further contributed to the diverse landscape of start-ups in 2023.

Conversely, sectors such as packaging, passenger rail, and logistics warehousing experienced comparatively slower rates of new incorporations.

Regionally, Northern Ireland experienced the most significant surge in start-ups, with a remarkable 59% increase compared to the previous year, as 14,000 new businesses emerged in the province. London followed suit with a 20% rise, while Scotland secured the third position with an 11% increase.

Moreover, the trend of female-founded businesses continues its upward trajectory, with a record 164,000 companies incorporated by women in 2023, reflecting a 4% uptick from the previous year and an overall growth of 26% over the span of five years from 2019 to 2023.

James Holian, Head of Business Banking at NatWest Group, expressed pride in the resilience and dynamism of the UK’s business landscape, emphasizing the crucial role small businesses play in driving economic growth. Holian underscored NatWest Group’s commitment to nurturing a supportive ecosystem for businesses to thrive.

Henry Whorwood, Managing Director of Research and Consultancy at Beauhurst, highlighted the robustness of the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, noting the nation’s strong track record in fostering the success of new businesses. Whorwood emphasised the positive implications of the burgeoning start-up pipeline for investors and economists alike.

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