THE number of firms in the region showing signs of business distress has hit a record low, according to new figures.

The figure for businesses in Yorkshire and the North East has dropped to 18 per cent, according the latest Business Distress Index from R3, the insolvency trade body.

The regional percentage is almost down to half the national figure, which is also a record low standing at 33 per cent.

R3 has tracked five key indicators of business distress since March 2012, including decreasing profits, sales volumes or market share, the regular use of maximum overdraft facilities, and new redundancies.

In the latest survey, all indicators are at or near record lows.

William Ballmann, chairman of insolvency trade body R3 in Yorkshire and partner at national law firm Gateley LLP, said: “Business distress has tumbled over the past two years as businesses have got over the worst of the recession and it is encouraging to see that the level in Yorkshire and the North East is almost half of the relatively low national level.”

R3’s latest survey also found that indicators of business growth in Yorkshire and the North East remain close to the record highs hit in the last survey in autumn 2013, with 66 per cent of businesses showing at least one sign of growth, slightly up from 63 per cent in October 2013 and a huge rise from just 29 per cent in March 2012.

Signs of business growth in the region include: investing in new equipment (40 per cent); increased sales volumes (40per cent); increased profits (42 per cent); business expansion (38 per cent); and growing market share (27 per cent).