Company administrations up 5% in 2019

There was an increase of almost 5% in the number of companies falling into administration over 2019, but predictions of the death of high street retailers may be wide of the mark, according to analysis from KPMG

A study of notices in the London Gazette found that a total of 1,403 companies went into administration during 2019, compared to 1,341 in the previous year.

The rise was driven by a spike in insolvencies in the third quarter of the year, during which 420 firms went into administration including the likes of Jack Wills, Karen Millen, Late Rooms, and Eversmart Energy.

The final quarter of the year, however, saw insolvencies fall back to more typical quarterly levels, with 311 administrations between October and December.

Notable cases included the greetings card retailer Clintons, Toto Energy, and women’s fashion chain Bonmarche.

While the headlines during 2019 focused on failures on the high street, the number of high street names falling into administration over the full year actually fell sharply – from 170 in 2018 to 133 in 2019.

However, it was a tougher year for those in the building and construction industry, which saw 254 administrations, compared to 216 in 2018.

It was also a challenging year for companies across the UK real estate sector, which saw 69 administrations, up from 53 in 2018, with continuing pressure on activity levels and margins.

Blair Nimmo, head of restructuring for KPMG UK, said: ‘2019 was a year characterised by profound political and economic uncertainty, with consumer confidence remaining fragile and companies continuing to bear the brunt of rising overheads and increased costs.

‘Nevertheless, it’s certainly not apparent that we are about to see an influx of insolvencies over the months ahead. December’s election result brought with it a degree of certainty, and business confidence seems to have responded positively.’

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