NEWS from the high street is often doom and gloom these days, with countless stories of businesses closing down or falling footfall in town centres.

But despite the tough financial conditions of the last year, the latest statistics show that more new businesses were established in Shropshire during 2019 than in any previous year – hitting a record high for the second year in a row.

Despite political and economic challenges, 3,231 new companies were registered in the county compared to 2,634 during 2018, representing an increase of 22.7 per cent.

This brings the total number of registered companies in Shropshire to 23,741, up from 22,421 at the end of 2018 – which equates to 5.9 per cent growth.

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

There were 1,443 company formations in Telford and Wrekin, with the remaining companies established elsewhere in the county.

Sarah Radford is one of those many business owners that has seen success in the past year.

She is the owner of Bredwood Arcade-based haberdashery and craft supplier Crafty Birds, which opened in January 2019.

Sarah says that 2019 has been a very successful year for the business, and she looks forward to what 2020 will bring.

“The last year has gone really well,” said Sarah. “We celebrated our first birthday last weekend.

“People in the area have really got behind the shop and we made a small profit in our first year of trading.”

Sarah says that building up a customer base has been the key to success, but also offering more than just haberdashery.

“We have our regular customers, but we also have crafters that show the work in the shop,” added Sarah. “They’re really pleased.

“They show everything from costume jewellery to teddy bears, so it’s quite an eclectic mix.

“And on the other side of the shop we sell crafting materials and have a haberdashery.

“We try to be a friendly, professional face and we always provide a good service.”

Sarah believes that being based in a smaller town such as Whitchurch has been a benefit to her business, as opposed to a larger town that might have more natural footfall.

“In a way it’s been easier, as we’ve built up a following quite quickly,” added Sarah. “We’re also the only shop of this sort in town so there’s no competition.

“We also do classes, so that helps bring people in, who then come back to purchase things.

“It’s a lively town as well Whitchurch, and word has got round about the shop. People come from other towns, such as Oswestry and Nantwich to visit.

“It’s been a really good year definitely. I’m looking forward to what 2020 brings.”

Sarah’s business also joins the UK-wide increase in new businesses formed in 2019.

Last year, the overall number of UK companies also continued to grow, with a new high of 4,471,008, a 3.8 per cent increase on the total of 4,308,022 at the end of 2018.

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct said a record number of businesses in Shropshire forming was an excellent achievement.

“Reporting a record year – the second in a row – for new company formations in Shropshire during a turbulent year, politically and economically, is a major achievement,” said John.

“Attracting new ventures and encouraging entrepreneurs to set up there, means that the county is clearly delivering positive support for business.

“With Brexit uncertainty casting a shadow – and some companies experiencing falling sales or choosing to relocate internationally – it is heartening that we are seeing signs of business optimism with so many new companies being created.

“This picture is mirrored nationally with an all-time high of nearly 700,000 new businesses formed in the UK as a whole.”

Meanwhile, other businesses in Whitchurch are looking to keep the good times rolling, by launching a Shop Local Fiver Fest campaign.

The campaign is part of a national initiative aimed promoting the value of shopping locally in Whitchurch.

The basis of the concept is aimed at individual shoppers spending £5 a week in a local independent shop or business.

The theory is that spending ‘a fiver’ can make a huge difference to the local economy.

The scheme is being pioneered in Whitchurch by Sharron Marriott, owner of Make a House a Home, who says the local economy could massively benefit from such a scheme.

“Whitchurch has an approximate population of 10,000 people; over the Fiver Fest fortnight this could keep £50,000 within our town,” said Sharron.

“If people have enjoyed the experience and choose to continue to support businesses locally, over a 12-month period this could equate to approximately £2.6 million into the local economy. So let’s give it a go.

“As businesses owners you just need to promote as much as possible being on offer for £5 within your business.

“You could even offer a £5 voucher off a future purchase or service at a later date to encourage customers to return to your business.”

The campaign will run from February 15 to February 29, and Sharron is encouraging as many businesses as possible to get involved.

For more information contact Sharron on 01948 662233 or email