3,300 Cornish businesses ‘in distress’


The number of ailing businesses in Cornwall reached 3,294 in Q4 of 2022, according to the latest figures from Begbies Traynor’s ‘Red Flag Alert’, which monitors the financial health of British companies.

This represents a quarterly decrease of 1% in the number of struggling businesses in Cornwall, and an annual fall of 5%.

Despite the overall decrease, the data identified specific sector hotspots where businesses are particularly struggling.

According to the report, businesses in the hotels & accommodation sector are most affected, with a quarterly increase of 10% in the number of companies in significant financial distress. This was followed by automotive, which saw a quarterly jump of 7%.

Nationally, the latest Red Flag Alert research for Q4 2022 recorded 610,405 businesses in significant distress. Representing a 4% increase since Q4 2021 and 24% surge in significant distress levels compared to pre-Covid times in Q4 2019, the data highlights the intense strain an increasing number of companies are under as they are hit by rising labour and materials costs, increasing energy costs and an economy likely headed into recession.

The most recent County Court Judgements (CCJs), widely seen as a leading indicator of financial distress, are also climbing rapidly.

Nationally, there were 23,885 CCJs in the final quarter of 2022, a 52% rise in the level compared to the same period a year ago. Similarly, Winding Up Petitions, a much more serious legal action lodged by creditors, totalled 576 in the same period, a rise of 131% compared with 2021.

Commenting on the figures, Scott Kippax, partner at Begbies Traynor in Cornwall, said: “We came into 2022 hopeful that the pandemic was behind us, and better times were ahead, only for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to unsettle the global economy, leading to spiralling inflation and soaring energy bills, and laying the foundations for what looks like a global recession.

“In the UK in particular, strike action is also piling on the pressure as staff struggle to get to work and customers stay away.

“Many of the companies captured by the Red Flag Alert are SMEs without the financial firepower larger enterprises have to fall back on. We should be applauding the directors of these smaller companies which make up the backbone of the UK’s economy for the incredible tenacity they have shown for so long.

“However, we’re taking calls from company bosses who are facing multiple challenges to keep their businesses afloat. They are dealing with a gloomy economic outlook with inflation at 40-year highs and interest rates at levels not seen for 14 years. As a result, more and more companies are starting to feel the burden of their debts, making directors question whether they can go on.”