The examinership process saved almost 600 jobs in Ireland in 2020, new figures show today.

Examinership is a process under which a company facing insolvency, but with a reasonable prospect of survival, can seek protection from its creditors while a court-appointed examiner searches for new investment and restructures the company.

According to the Baker Tilly Examinership Index, the number of jobs saved via examinership is similar to 2019 when 598 jobs were secured as a result of viable businesses availing of the process to assist the survival and restructuring of an insolvent company.

270 of the jobs saved were in the retail sector, 140 were within the aviation sector while 108 were within the wholesale and distribution sectors.

Neil Hughes, Managing Partner of business advisory firm Baker Tilly, said what was most surprising was the absence of hospitality businesses, which are being supported by the Government's Covid-19 supports.

"2020 did not see the expected restructurings that are bound to happen now," he said.

Among the nine Irish businesses that successfully exited examinership last year were Irish airline CityJet, Galway-based DPD operator Supreme Deliveries and food distribution group Dublin Food Sales.

The Dublin Food Sales restructure enabled the company to continue to trade as a going concern and write off over €10m of debt, when the only other option available to the group was liquidation.

Under the scheme, various creditor classes will receive dividends ranging between 100% and 3.3%.

The restructuring plans put in place for Supreme Deliveries, together with an upturn in trade from online shopping, has resulted in an additional 14 staff being taken on during the 100 days of court protection.

"I have never seen the level of enquiries from worried business owners who are looking for options," Mr Hughes said.

"They are looking for hope, and not just to survive the impact of the crisis but to survive the recovery phase that is ahead of us now in 2021 and 2022," he said.

"It is an option that people are certainly thinking about but because of those supports it hasn't unfolded yet. There is always a lag in these situations. We saw that at the time of the last crash in 2008/2009 where a lot of restructuring cases happened in 2010, 2011 and 2012," he added.

Mr Hughes said there should be an awareness of the options that exist to try to help businesses survive and save jobs.