Posted on Monday 25 November 2013 by Ulster Business

 Jonathan Dobbin

One in five enterprises in Northern Ireland can be described as "high growth" companies, according to a new report into the pace of business growth across the UK.

The latest Entrepreneurs Index report from Barclays and the Business Growth Fund said that 19.6% of Northern Ireland-based companies were classed as high growth, just below the national average of 20.5%.

It defined high growth as companies with revenues of between £2.5m and £100m which have increased turnover by 33% over the last three years and produced 10% year on year growth for a minimum of two years.

The report also found Northern Ireland had 66,685 enterprises in 2013, 795 fewer than the same point a year ago, a fall of 1.2%. Alongside Wales it was one of only two regions in the UK to see a decline.

More positively the report found the city of Belfast had seen an increase in the number of enterprises in 2013, bringing the number of enterprises to 8,310, or 40 more than in 2012.

The report also reveals that Northern Ireland saw a 43% fall in the number of active, growing companies recording share sales in the past year to 78, which it said could reflect the lower level of private equity activity in Northern Ireland compared to GB or Northern Ireland entrepreneurs simply waiting for more favourable conditions to sell.

Jonathan Dobbin (pictured), Head of Wealth and Investment Management NI at Barclays, csaid of the report: "It is very encouraging to see such a significant increase in the proportion of high-growth companies in the past year across Northern Ireland. Although the number of Northern Ireland companies recording share sales in the past year has fallen, we continue to see very positive signs of strong entrepreneurial activity in Northern Ireland and evidence of growing confidence."

Andy Gregory, Regional Director, North, North Wales & Northern Ireland, BGF, says: "Northern Ireland has had a tough economic ride over the past few years but it is encouraging to see that the number of high growth companies is on the rise. There is clearly room for improvement but business owners in Northern Ireland certainly have the ambition to expand and explore the type of growth capital that the Business Growth Fund is able to provide and facilitate".



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