A Bury-based law firm says it heard from far fewer distressed businesses at the start of this year than expected.

Clough & Willis, which has offices in Bury and Little Lever, says that its analysts had expected to see and increase of 25 per cent of businesses in trouble looking for advice in the first quarter of 2023.

But in fact, the firm only saw an increase of eight per cent, which they say could mean there is some hope for the economy as inflation starts to fall.

Managing partner Lee Marston said: “A fall in inflation over the coming months will be the main driver around removing uncertainty.

“If it falls quickly and the recent trend of interest rate hikes peaks, then consumer confidence will grow which will encourage businesses to forge ahead with their growth and investment plans.”

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The main reasons cited by Clough & Willis include energy costs going down and a confidence that inflation will fall over the next six months.

The firm is also predicting a "coronation bounce" for some sectors including hospitality which should further bolster business confidence.

Another encouraging sign is that Clough & Willis has also seen a small spike in enquiries about management buyouts and buy-ins, which could indicate that businesses are looking to grown.