THE New Year has ushered in mixed news for those businesses across Yorkshire and the North East struggling to overcome financial difficulties as they head into 2020.
After a year hallmarked by a triple whammy of Brexit, political uncertainty and financial turbulence, the very latest insolvency research has unwrapped what’s best described as “a curate’s egg” – good in parts.
On an upbeat note, and with 2020 vision of a different kind, Yorkshire and North East insolvency analysts say that the number of businesses at risk of becoming insolvent is falling.
Consumer-facing sectors, including tourism operators and hotels, have been singled out as being among the most resilient in the face of insolvency.
However, the insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, which carried out the analysis, is guarded against too much optimism – and said caution must be the watchword for directors when making their New Year resolutions.
The insolvency experts warned businesses in Yorkshire and the North East: “Britain’s exit from the EU is destined to be a lengthy process and there are likely to be further bumps along the way.
“With the latest Government data showing that from August to October, the economy suffered its weakest three months since 2009, directors would be wise to adopt a cautious approach – and seek professional advice at the first signs of financial trouble.”
However, on the flipside, more insolvency warning bells have been sounded for the future of the High Street across Yorkshire and the North East.
Insolvency pressures on retailers in Yorkshire and the North East are expected to continue into 2020 as consumers shift further towards online shopping, and business rates increase.
Some 8,000 stores and 85,000 jobs were axed in 2019 as retailers battled with insolvency challenges, and fears are growing that the casualty toll will continue at the same pace during the next 12 months.
And Yorkshire and the North East stores are among the hardest hit – with the Yorkshire Post reporting the region is being out-performed by the rest of the country on both the number of empty shops and visitor rates.
On average 12.5 per cent of shops in the North East and Yorkshire have been vacant since 2011, compared with ten per cent in the UK as a whole, while footfall has also been dropping at a steeper rate.
Insolvency research reveals some stark differences across the Yorkshire and North East region.
Successful cities like York and Leeds have vacancy rates of 6.2 per cent and nine per cent respectively, while in Harrogate the rate is just under 10 per cent and 13 per cent of shops lay empty in insolvency-hit Hull.
And fears of more insolvencies have risen after analysts revealed that footfall during the Boxing Day sales dropped by 10.6 per cent, as a result of rainy weather and early discounting
Insolvency experts are now turning their eyes on the Budget, expected to take place in February, for new initiatives to support businesses; as well as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to launch a “fundamental review” on the current business rates system in spring 2020.
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