Franchise business grows as a quarter more businesses are set up by UK entrepreneurs.

Barclays has unveiled new figures showing a substantial rise in the number of budding entrepreneurs opening their doors for the first time.

Barclays today unveils new figures showing a substantial rise in the number of budding entrepreneurs opening their doors for the first time. Estimates show that 110,300 new businesses started up in the first quarter of 2006, almost one-quarter more than in the same period last year (88,800). It was the second strongest first quarter on record since Barclays started tracking the market in 1988.

John Davis, marketing director for local business at Barclays says, “A strong cyclical rebound in people starting a business has occurred in the first quarter but despite the high levels, the trading conditions for small business are still quite tough. We expect a more widespread improvement in small business trading conditions to occur later in 2006 and into 2007 as the current economic conditions pick up, providing improving opportunities for more individuals to set up and grow their business.”

Barclays quarterly start-ups survey also reveals that 20,600 women started a business in the first quarter of 2006 compared to 16,700 for the same period last year. This compares with 75,400 men setting up a business in quarter one 2006.

Property Services led the way with start volumes around 43 per cent higher than the first quarter last year. However, the greatest absolute increases were seen in Business & Financial Services (up 6,100) and Motor Trades, Wholesale and Retail (up 4,100).

Regionally, Franchises West Midlands and the South East saw the greatest percentage increase in the first quarter of 2006 for people starting up in business, compared to the same quarter in 2005; 34 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

On the other side of the business stock, there has been a striking increase in the volume of closures. In Q1 2006 111,200 businesses ceased trading an increase of nearly one-half on the same period last year. This sharp rise in business closures is probably not a cause for concern. It comes after a number of years where start-up volumes have been strong and the total number of mainstream businesses has risen substantially. With modest economic growth in recent quarters there was likely to be some correction.

However, it should be remembered that because there are more businesses operating the closure rate (as a percentage of stock) in the first quarter was only a little above the average seen over the past ten years.

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