Fewer companies went bust over the first quarter of the year than in the same period in 2013 according to analysis by accounting firm Kavanagh Fennell.

Kavanagh Fennell's figures - published at www.insolvencyjournal.ie - show the number of insolvencies was down 13%, from 347 to 303, between January and March.

Both the hospitality and retail sectors saw a significant drop in the number of examinerships, receiverships and liquidations during the period.

There was a 20% reduction in insolvencies in the hospitality sector, while the number of companies going bust in retail fell 11% compared to the first quarter of last year.

In a statement alongside the figures Kavanagh Fennell partner David Van Dessell said despite the more encouraging figures for the first quarter of the year he did not expect the overall number of insolvencies in 2014 to be markedly down on last year's numbers.

The introduction of a new "examinership-lite" process which provides for debt restructuring to be approved in the Circuit Court rather than the High Court is expected to result in an increase in examinership applications from small and medium enterprises.

"We also anticipate sustained activity in the property receivership arena as the property market strengthens in urban areas, leading to better returns for secured creditors," said Mr Van Dessell.