SURREY registered 11,997 new businesses last year, an 8.7% increase on the 11,032 formed in 2019.

The number of companies in the county is now 105,715, which shows 5% growth from the 100,643 recorded a year earlier.

The statistics are taken from the Inform Direct Review of Company Formations, using data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics.

Woking is seventh in the table of 11 Surrey districts covered by the research, with 1,034 new companies formed in 2020. Surrey Heath was two places below Woking with 803 new companies formed.

Elmbridge formed the highest number of new businesses (1,744), followed by Reigate and Banstead (1,442) and Guildford (1,246).

John Korchak, operations director at Inform Direct, said: “It is excellent that Surrey has achieved a successful year for new company formations during 2020, despite the unprecedented uncertainties brought by COVID-19.

“Many of the new company formations are in retail, with a large number of new businesses set up to sell goods online or locally, taking advantage of customers’ changing shopping habits.

“The effect of the national lockdowns means that sadly some existing businesses have folded and employees made redundant, and we see many of those people setting up new ventures as an alternative way to earn a living.”

Commenting on the figures, Richard Field, president of the Woking Chamber of Commerce, said: “Woking has always had a high proportion of entrepreneurs, and for many being made redundant was the ‘starting pistol’ to setting up in business for themselves.

“Through the Woking Chamber of Commerce there is now a huge amount of free advice and support for any start-up business. This is very much needed as over 20% fail in their first year of trading. 

“It’s encouraging to know that there has never been more help and advice available to local businesses than there is now.

“Stepping out on your own takes real courage in this current climate, but as some have told me, ‘If I don’t do it now, when will I get another chance?’

“Woking is still seen as a business hub of Surrey, and having more than a thousand new businesses register last year confirms that. 

“With so much doom and gloom being reported these days it’s a real joy to read an encouraging business report.”

Nationally, a record-breaking 780,766 new businesses were formed, compared to 690,763 in 2019.

The number of company dissolutions across the UK – 418,427 during 2020 – was the lowest since 2015.