A BOLTON based business adviser is predicting that next year could bring big opportunities for firms in the borough.

Wood Street headquartered Hilton Smythe aims to support the buying or selling of businesses and has seen a three-fold increase in buyer enquiries since 2019, fuelled by people wanting to take an entrepreneurial route after leaving their jobs during lockdown.

But the company has also observed that the number of sellers coming to market isn’t meeting the high demand from buyers, meaning that those wishing to sell in early 2022 could find themselves in a good position.

CEO Gareth Smyth said: “The difficulty we have at the moment is that people don’t want to sell.

"They think it’s a bad time to sell but in fact the contrary is true, we’ve got buyers waiting to buy businesses.

"Businesses have had a hard time of late, and for any small business to go through a pandemic, survive, granted with a lot of help from the government, is incredible.

"But now is the time we’ll start to see sinking or swimming and, inevitably, lots of businesses will start to struggle now furlough has come to an end, so that may be a catalyst for people to decide it’s time to sell up.

"While that may sound a bit negative, it’s actually a really positive step for a business owner who wants to move on to something else and thinks that they’re stuck because of Covid.

"It’s a seller’s market right now and buyers are looking for small, local business to take over.

Backing up Hilton Smythe's claims, the Lloyds Bank Business Barometer has also reported a six-point increase, to 36 per cent, in terms of confidence in businesses, in particular amongst buyers of businesses - the highest level since April 2017.

Mr Smythe said: "Around 60 per cent of our core sales market is people retiring, so I’d certainly say if you’re putting off your retirement because you’re concerned about selling your business, make it your new year’s resolution to get it on the market, you could be sitting with your feet up in no time."