The number of companies falling into administration across England and Wales increased by just under 5% in 2019, according to new analysis from KPMG.
A study of notices in the London Gazette showed that a total of 1,403 companies went into administration during 2019, compared with 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 Jack Wills, Karen Millen, Late Rooms and Eversmart Energy.
However, despite a small increase in the number of retailers falling into administration in the final quarter of the year, the number of high street names falling into administration over the full year actually “fell sharply” – from 170 in 2018 to 133 in 2019.
Additionally, the final quarter of the year saw insolvencies fall back to more typical quarterly levels, with 311 administrations between October and December. KPMG said notable cases included the greetings card retailer Clintons, Toto Energy, and women’s fashion chain Bonmarche.
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.
“While many businesses battened down the financial hatches, adopting a prudent and cautious strategy, for some, the challenging trading conditions proved to be a bridge too far.”
He added: “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.
“While certain sector-specific challenges remain, we would encourage companies to continue to focus on good financial housekeeping. Keep a tight grip on cash and costs, focus on operational efficiencies and maintain a clear visibility over supply chains, where events that are out of your control can have a significant knock-on impact on your business.”