Over 900,000 companies were started over the course of 2023 – an increase of 12 per cent – bringing the number of active companies operating in the UK to 5.31 million, also a UK record. This is despite high despite challenging economic conditions such as heightened inflation and increased operational costs.
The biggest growing sectors include online retailers, property and street food stalls. New online retailers accounted for over 82,000 new businesses, 49,000 businesses began operating in the property letting space, and further down the top 10, 21,000 new takeaway and street food stands set up shop in 2023.
Meanwhile the sectors showing the slowest rate of growth for new incorporations included packaging, passenger rail and logistics warehousing businesses.
Geographically, Northern Ireland benefited from the largest boom in start-ups year on year with 14,000 new businesses starting up in 2023, a 59 per cent increase on the previous year. London benefitted from a 20 per cent increase, while Scotland came in third with 11 per cent.
The growth in female founded businesses also continues to increase year on year, with a record 164,000 companies incorporated by women in 2023, up 4 per cent on 2022 and taking growth in the five years between 2019 and 2023 to 26 per cent overall.
“It is hard not to feel a sense of pride in the resilience and dynamism of the UK’s business landscape,” NatWest’s head of business banking James Holian said. “Today’s report shows that despite the recent economic challenges, entrepreneurial spirit in the country has not just endured, it has thrived.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, accounting for three-fifths of employment and about half of the private sector’s turnover. As the UK’s biggest bank for business, we believe we have a key role to play in fostering an ecosystem where businesses are given the tools to start, scale and succeed.”
“The growth in these numbers speaks to the growth in the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Beauhurst’s Henry Whorwood added. “While not all companies become startups or go on to become scaleups, the UK has a strong track record of helping new businesses start and succeed, and the strength in the pipeline should cheer investors and economists alike.”
More on new companies
One fifth of all new companies are founded by women – All-women teams established over 150,000 new businesses last year, with young women aged 16-to-25-years-old the most active entrepreneurs