THERE has been good news about Barnsley's economy - with reports new businesses are booming and retail sales are also on the up.

In the first six months of this year a record number of new companies were set up in the borough, according to figures released by Duport, which handles information about companies.

It reports 414 new companies were registered from January to June - more than any other half year in the history of the town.

The 15 per cent rise increase in the number of new companies compared to last year is double the UK average of just 6.4 per cent.

Managing director of Duport, Peter Valaitis, said: "The record number of company formations is an encouraging sign for the local economy of Barnsley.

"Like so many other towns, it has suffered during the recession - but more new companies opening up could help revitalise the business community and improve the visitor offering of the area."

At the same time retail sales are also improving, up by 1.1 per cent in July and by three per cent for the year.

George Elliott, from Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce, said: "The retail sector has shown a consistent increase in sales during the past four months.

"Here in Barnsley we're blessed with an excellent retail offer mix and a dynamic town centre of excellent independents run by passionate hard working owners, proving daily that small can be profitable even in these challenging times.

"These figures are good news, although it's still early days and of course all retailers still need to keep abreast of new technologies and continue to invest in their employees development to ensure that when the projected sustained upturn occurs, they are in a strong position to take advantage of it.

"There are clear signs that we can be cautiously optimistic about our, and the nations hugely important retail sector, which employs a staggering one in nine of our working population."