The Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) revealed yesterday that 268 Scottish companies had fallen into insolvency in the three months to September, up from 184 in the preceding quarter and from 143 in the January to March period.
However, although the number of Scottish corporate insolvencies in the three months to September was up 45.7% on the previous quarter, it was 2.2% lower than in the same period of last year.
Corporate insolvencies in Scotland in the three months to September, the second quarter of the AiB's 2013/14 financial year, comprised 155 compulsory liquidations, 107 creditors' voluntary liquidations, and six receiverships.
The AiB figures do not cover corporate administrations.
Bryan Jackson, a Glasgow-based business restructuring partner at accountancy firm BDO, said of the latest figures: "The rise in the number of corporate insolvencies...is unwelcome, if not unexpected, news. Many companies have simply been existing for some time, barely maintaining solvency in the hope and expectation that an upturn in the market will be around the corner. These firms, sometimes called 'zombie' businesses, will have been in the doldrums for several years and a slight change in circumstance, such as the loss of a key customer, could push them over the edge."
And Mr Jackson warned of more corporate failures, against the backdrop of only a slow improvement in economic conditions, highlighting the need for owners of businesses to adapt to the changed circumstances.
He said: "In Scotland, I think we are likely to see more corporate failures in the months, and even years, ahead as the economy improves slowly and markets adjust to a different operating system. It is clear that we will not be returning to the boom years of 2007 and the best business owners will know this and will adjust their activities accordingly."
Yvonne Brady, a Glasgow-based partner of law firm HBJ Gateley, who specialises in corporate restructuring, took a more upbeat view of the latest hike in Scottish corporate insolvencies, asserting that it was a sign of "improving conditions".
She said: "The businesses that were in the best shape have survived the downturn and are now gearing up for growth by making acquisitions and purchases. As poorer companies fail, this creates a market for their assets and this is why we are seeing a rise in insolvencies as creditors see an opportunity to pursue debts.
"Although at first glance this may look bad, the current level of failures actually indicates improving conditions in the market.
"Resurgent economies often experience a spike in insolvencies as the weaker players are no longer able to compete against stronger competitors and that is precisely what we are seeing here."
Ms Brady was optimistic about the outlook for insolvencies, although she warned that a rise in UK base rates could trigger corporate failures.
She said: "This quarter has seen a large increase and these figures could finally suggest the bulk of corporate insolvencies are behind us as the economy returns to growth, following a number of positive indicators. A rise in interest rates in the near future, however, could bring about a further spike as firms struggle to service debt."