Despite gloomy economic forecasts there are some encouraging results emerging in relation to new business start-ups, according to the chief executive of the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies.

George Derbyshire said figures from Barclays show that in the first quarter of this year almost 100,000 new businesses opened, which he insisted was a "very strong performance".

His colleagues around the country have also received a positive level of enquiries from those looking to start their own business, he added.

"The straws in the wind are not totally discouraging in regard to the start-up market," said Mr Derbyshire, pointing out that if there is a rise in unemployment, as is expected, this could encourage "another flow of new starts".

And he said that while no business sector is immune from the current economic downturn, the success of a start-up will ultimately depend on the "skills and energy" of the managers and those who own the business.