Newton Abbot and Torquay feature in a list of the top ten UK towns with the highest levels of business distress.
According to insolvency experts Begbies Traynor, 12.23% of the businesses in Newton Abbot and 11.54% in Torquay faced severe financial difficulty in the last quarter of 2013.
This puts Newton Abbot in third place and Torquay in ninth. Weymouth tops the list with 13.95% and Dorchester is second with 12.37%.
By contrast, the South East dominates the list of towns with the least amount of corporate financial distress, with Barking having the lowest rate at 4.85%.
Julie Palmer, regional managing partner for Begbies Traynor in the South West, said: “Our research highlights the challenges facing coastal towns such as Weymouth and the broader South West region, which rely heavily on tourism and agriculture, even before the devastating effects of the recent severe weather. Businesses in this region, which are already vulnerable during the winter months due to lower visitor numbers and therefore reduced local spending power, now face the immediate challenge of dealing with further business disruption from the damaging effects of bad weather and incessant flooding.
“Without a rapid increase in inward investment, to help the region diversify away from tourism and agriculture, and investment in infrastructure to improve the region’s accessibility and ease of doing business, we fear significant growth in the number of business failures in the region over the coming years.”
Ms Palmer added: “It appears that the South East continues to go from strength to strength, as London outpaces the rest of the UK economy due to its attraction as a hub of international activity and investment - not to mention increased confidence across the region as a result of house price rises, and continued public sector spending on large infrastructure projects.”