Northern and Welsh towns are attracting the biggest growth in business, says a new report.
Research showed that areas including Stockton-on-Tees, Swansea and Liverpool attracted the largest number of new companies or expansions by existing firms in the past year.
The study by the Royal Mail showed that 11 of the top 20 towns and cities ranked by business growth are in the North.
Stockton-on-Tees had experienced "high successful" business growth because of its strong commitment to new businesses and self-employment, said the report.
Carol Undy, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said yesterday: "The UK business landscape has changed substantially over the last five years, with both current businesses expanding and an increasingly large number of start-ups emerging.
"As a result, towns and cities are adapting to support this changing environment and are flourishing as successful business centres as a result."