Our research shows re than 1,600 businesses filed for administration in 2023 – a 22% increase compared to 2022 and 91% rise in comparison to 2021.

What sectors have been in the spotlight?

Retail, construction, hospitality, manufacturing, and real estate were the worst-hit sectors, collectively accounting for 59% of the 1,641 administrations.

Regionally, Greater London led the way with 22% of the filings, followed by the North West (14%) and South East (12%), data from The Gazette Official Public Record has revealed.

While January (76) was the quietest month, administration numbers leapt to 177 in October – the most recorded for 43 months (185 in March 2020).

With administrations nearing pre-Covid levels (1,794), an insolvency and restructuring expert has warned that sustained difficult trading periods combined with rising geopolitical tensions means we could see more businesses failing throughout 2024.

What did our Head of Restructuring have to say about the analysis?

Andy Taylor, partner and head of restructuring at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “The significant uptick in the number of companies filing for administration in 2023 underscores the challenges faced by businesses amid changing consumer habits, financial pressures, and geopolitical uncertainties.

“In the labyrinth of economic complexities, the retail sector in particular is bearing the brunt, noted by the collapse of major player Wilko. There has also been a reduction in housebuilding, which has a knock-on effect in the construction and real estate sectors.

“The cost of money, marked by high interest rates throughout 2023, exacerbates financial strains on businesses with models that thrived in a sub-2% interest rate environment. Organisations can only bear that pressure for so long before its sustained impact starts to wash through and they begin running out of cash.

“A shift in consumer buying habits, exemplified by a challenging January for the hospitality sector, adds to the narrative of subdued spending. Moreover, HMRC continues to be more active, with threatened enforcement pushing businesses towards considering their options, and many opting for administration as an alternative to being wound up on a compulsory basis.

“The global stage, marked by geopolitical tensions in Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Gaza, contributes to economic uncertainty and suppressed growth. Businesses reliant on imports face increased outlays, as shipping companies opt to avoid the dangers of the Suez Canal and seek to pass on the extra costs of transport to customers.

“Many predict the rate of inflation to continue its downward trajectory in 2024, perhaps even approaching Bank of England’s target of 2%. If that trend continues one might anticipate something like three interest rate cuts in 2024, which will hopefully stimulate growth. However, the economic landscape remains unpredictable, and our advice remains consistent – seeking professional advice early can open up more options for struggling businesses.

“It is crucial not to ignore the signs and bury your head in the sand and instead, take a proactive approach to address underlying issues. By doing so, businesses can better navigate the tough trading conditions and increase their chances of survival.”

By sector 2023 2022 By region 2023 2022
Administrative 26 24 British Isles 12 3
Agriculture 7 10 East Midlands 130 74
Arts and entertainment 68 21 East of England 118 94
Automotive/transportation 87 72 Greater London 364 265
Construction 200 208 North East 61 50
Education 16 4 North West 231 212
Engineering 31 35 Northern Ireland 9 18
Financial 75 79 Scotland 63 59
Health and social 74 66 South East 205 213
Hospitality 190 140 South West 119 68
Information and communication 87 55 Wales 31 48
Manufacturing 186 174 West Midlands 139 101
Mining and quarrying 7 10 Yorkshire & The Humber 159 135
Others 7 10
Professional services 64 90
Public admin and defence 16 7
Real estate 155 95
Retail 239 138
Utilities 73 61
Total 1,641 1,340 Total 1,641 1,340

How our Restructuring and Insolvency Solicitors can help you?

Our restructuring and Insolvency team can help in many ways including restructuring options and insolvent companies, Cash flow advice, Refinance and signpost to recent government grants, bounce back loans, and CBILs, Directors’ Duties, Debt recovery, Negotiating scaled-back credit terms, Workforce planning, Cost control, Advise on communication with key stakeholders: fellow directors, landlords or other creditors, customers and suppliers, or HMRC and much more.

Who are Shakespeare Martineau?

We are a multi-award-winning business that provides legal advice for life and business, our purpose is clear: to unlock potential. 

Working with organisations of all sizes, we deliver a broad range of specialist legal services and has expertise across multiple areas including but not limited to energy, education, banking and finance, healthcare, investment funds, manufacturing, agriculture, family business, Islamic finance, later living, social housing, charities, and real estate. We also provide services for families and private clients.

We are part of the legal and professional services group Ampa, and are a certified B Corporation, meaning we have been verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

We have been listed in Best Companies 2022 as one of the top 100 best large companies to work for in the UK and ranked as a top 25 law firm, top 75 East Midlands company, top 75 West Midlands company, and top 50 large London company to work for.

With more than 1,200 people, we have hubs in London, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Solihull, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bristol, Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Sheffield, and Edinburgh.

Written By

Published: 28th January 2024
Area: Banking & Financial Services

Get In Touch

Andrew is head of our restructuring, recoveries and insolvency team. He advises on all aspects of insolvency.

He works with companies, insolvency practitioners and lenders on restructuring and turnaround options. He also advises on formal insolvency issues including the sales of assets and undertakings, validity of security/appointment, asset realisations, director’s conduct and antecedent transactions.

He is ranked as a Leading Individual for Insolvency and Corporate Recovery in the Legal 500 United Kingdom 2023 edition.

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Our full-service team of restructuring and insolvency experts provide advisory, transactional and litigation services in relation to all restructuring and insolvency matters.

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