Number of start-ups at record high

Confidence: Lord Heseltine with Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, at the launch of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.
Confidence: Lord Heseltine with Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, at the launch of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.
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Company formation across the city soared to a record high ahead of the launch of the multi-million pound City Deal, according to new research.

The latest Duport Business Confidence Report for Preston revealed there were 509 new companies formed from January to March this year - more than any other quarter on record and a nine per cent rise on the previous year.

And business bosses said the city was now seen as a “major economic driver” in the area.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “Preston continues to evolve as a centre of innovation and as an engine of economic growth.

“Core to the city’s strategy is a focus on City Deal which we believe will shape the county in the years ahead. Preston is now seen as a major economic driver for the North West economy and we expect that it will continue to improve its competitive position and gain ground on many more established cities in the UK.”

She added: “Confidence in Preston is moving in the right direction. Small firms want to employ more people and grow their business. This is all good news, but we must not be complacent.” The report also showed a total of 299 companies were dissolved in Preston in the first quarter, leaving a net increase of 210.

Ashley Preston, 44, set up AWP Computer Services in Walton-le-Dale in February, which aims to serve as an IT department for small businesses. He said he was confident he would soon be able to expand and said: “I think confidence is rising and I’m hoping it’s a good time to get a little bit of momentum going.

Managing Director of Duport.co.uk, Peter Valaitis, said: “The record number of company formations in Preston is fantastic news, as it suggests business confidence is on the rise in the area. The improvements brought about by the City Deal will make Preston a more attractive place to live, work and visit over the coming years.”