MORE new businesses were started in Worcestershire last year than in any previous year, according to new figures.

Data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics shows 9,971 new companies were registered in 2019, an increase from 6,889 in 2018.

This, according to Inform Direct, is an increase of 44.7 per cent.

The firm's annual review of company formations found there are currently 43,247 registered companies across the county, up from 37,800 at the end of 2018.

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct, said: "Reporting a record year for new company formations in Worcestershire during a turbulent year, politically and economically, is a major achievement.

"It’s particularly impressive after 2018 totals saw a fall in the number of both new and existing businesses.

"Attracting new ventures and encouraging entrepreneurs to set up there, means that the county is once again delivering positive support for business.

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“With Brexit uncertainty casting a shadow – and some companies experiencing falling sales or choosing to relocate internationally – it is heartening that we are seeing signs of business optimism with so many new companies being created.

"This picture is mirrored nationally with an all-time high of nearly 700,000 new businesses formed in the UK as a whole.”

683 of the new businesses were set up in Worcester, with another 485 new businesses in Malvern.

Bromsgrove formed the highest number of new businesses (5,530), followed by Wychavon (1,352) and Wyre Forest (1,112).

Alongside this record number of formations – 690,763 compared to 669,855 in 2018 – the overall number of UK companies also continued to grow, with a new high of 4,471,008, a 3.8 per cent increase on the total of 4,308,022 at the end of 2018.

On the national picture, Worcestershire is 14th highest for new businesses being set up.

London is top, with Manchester and the West Midlands in second and third place.

The report says 5,579 companies were dissolved in Worcestershire last year, with the number of new businesses continually rising over the last five years from 29,303 in 2015 to 43,247 in 2019.

2018 is the only year where more companies were dissolved than were set up, with 8,175 dissolutions and 6,889 formations.