There were 19,236 business failures in the UK in the first half of this year - down 3.6 per cent on the corresponding period last year. But between April and June, the failure rate was up 9.4 per cent on the previous three months and 4.3 per cent higher than in the same months in 1997.
Across the 11 countries surveyed, the overall situation was more cheerful.
Dun & Bradstreet found 77,000 businesses went under between January and June compared with 82,398 during the same months last year.
France, Italy and the Benelux countries had more firms succeeding, but in Germany the failure rate rose.