A CARDIGAN-BASED boat builder has expanded its operations and workforce after securing a sixfigure investment from Barclays.
Swallow Boats received £200,000 to support its expansion, allowing it to hire additional staff and construct a new workshop. The business has created four staff and expects to recruit a further four employees in the next year. Matt Newland, director of Swallow Boats, said: “We faced a number of challenges during the downturn, as we provide a luxury product, but we still continued to increase turnover every year as we maintained our strong marketing strategy and with interest rates so low many clients chose to invest in a luxury item they could enjoy. The business also hopes the new workshop will support a surge in demand following the launch of its new model, the Bay Cruiser 25, at the Southampton Boat Show in September. Newland added: “We recognise the importance of traditional boat building but also embrace the latest technology as we are planning to further invest in computer-controlled machinery. We also have plans to diversify into the powerboat market next year ensuring we have both a more diversified product base and income stream.” Justin Rowland, Barclays business manager, said: “Matt is a great example of an entrepreneur using their experience, contacts and skills to develop a successful business.” Swallow Boats was formed in 2005 and employs 13 staff. The company exports its vessels – which are worth up to £70,000 – to America, Japan and Australia as well supplying customers around the UK.
Young businesswoman scoops award
A YOUNG businesswoman has just scooped her first award after trading for as little as 2 years. 23-year-old Kimberley Davies is the owner of Serenity Health and Beauty Salon, on William Street in Cardigan.
Recently nominated by her bridal clients for her outstanding service and close attention to detail, Kimberley attended the awards ceremony of the Welsh National Wedding Awards at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea on Sunday evening (Nov 22) where she won the Best New Wedding Business Award for Region 4 (Powys and Ceredigion).
Speaking of the achievement on Facebook, Kimberley said: ‘Thank you to all of my wonderful brides and clients for nominating and supporting me in business over the last 2 years! Tonight I was presented with Best New Wedding Business award and I couldn’t be happier!’
Speaking later in the week, Kimberley told the Herald: “I never thought starting off a brand new make up and beauty business nearly 2 years ago at the age of 21 would result in winning the Welsh National Wedding Awards 2015 for Best New Wedding Business in my region. I’m absolutely thrilled that the work I do for bridal clientele has been recognised and I love nothing more than making each bride’s day individually special! Thank you so much to my lovely brides who voted and continue to support the business!”
The power of the pension pot
FUNDING secured in the past three years has managed to make a difference to small businesses and services across Ceredigion, the Council has said.
£3.4m European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Axis 3 money has been used by Ceredigion County Council over the last 3 years to bring about grass roots improvements to small businesses and services across the county. Finishing in December 2014, the Programme reporting shows that the initial open call undertaken by the Council in 2011 for activity proposals has paid dividends in the breadth and number of small scale improvements that have been made over the Programme period.
Reflecting on the success of the Programme, Cllr Gareth Lloyd, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Tourism outlined some of the achievements: “Small businesses and tourism have been the focus for a lot of the investment. In total we have advised or assisted around 200 micro enterprises whilst giving small amounts of finance to 87 of them. This has led to the creation of 32 jobs and 14 new micro enterprises. We have managed to support 15 small scale tourism infrastructure improvements which have seen at least an additional 350,000 additional visitors. Some of these investments have been quite large, like the reinstated stations along the Rheidol Railway or the improved accommodation at the Urdd Camp, whilst others have been more modest – such as improvements to bridleways.
We haven’t ignored other important areas of rural life though, for instance we have been able to financially support 33 projects related to improving basic services such as village halls, community transport, play areas and even a broadband mast. Many villages have benefited from small scale improvements to public spaces through our Balchder Pentrefi scheme. When added together, all these individual actions have made a real contribution to the rural way of life and economy in Ceredigion.”
The Programme has now come to an end, and the County Council will be hoping that the Ceredigion will be able to benefit from the next round of EAFRD money which is mainly being delivered by the Welsh Government.
Video firm supports local businesses
A PEMBROKESHIRE based video production company is developing its facilities to help local businesses in new ways.
Oddsox Productions is a unique, professional video production service. They work with local businesses to provide a unique and cost effective way to advertise to new customers worldwide via video advertising on website and social media.
Creative director Nikki Ross, of Pembroke, says: “It’s so difficult to set up a successful, sustainable business in this part of Wales. Lack of money in the local economy means most small businesses are struggling to survive. We work with clients in the oil and gas industry and local smaller businesses to help grow the local economy.”
Nikki gained a degree in Film, Television and drama studies at Aberystwyth University and went on to do work experience with Prospect pictures in London, helping out at the Good Food live show. Returning to Pembrokeshire she spent time working as a runner and production assistant with Curlyman productions before setting out on her own venture.
“I set up Oddsox productions in 2008 in the middle of the recession” she says. “It was tough as everything I had at the beginning was through my own finances. I bought a small hand-held camera and used it for as long as I could.”
A few years later, Nikki received a grant from the LIF (Local Investment Fund) which helped her to source new, much needed equipment.
“I used it to update my camera and buy a new tripod. It was the next step to enable better quality production. In this business you have to keep updating the equipment to keep up with technology and other competitors.”
Nikki feels that the key to a successful business is the balance between communicating with clients in a friendly and approachable manner and understanding their vision in order to get what they want out of the partnership.
She says, “Some people have a clear idea of what they want. Others need more guidance, it’s about being adaptable to people’s needs.”
This is partly behind the unusual name for the business.
“I chose the name Oddsox because every client is different. No two productions we do are the same. We are all about working to create a unique vision for each individual business.”
Nikki says it’s been good to see the business grow but she would still like to expand further, perhaps taking on a few regular staff. She currently works alone, hiring freelancers or relying on the help of friends and family if she needs an extra pair of hands. The demand for business fluctuates but each day is different. She is currently working on a new area of Oddsox.
“I’ve had so many enquiries regarding understanding how to use camera equipment and importing images and film onto social media. I decided to offer video and multimedia training and consultancy to local people and businesses to try and help them move into the 21st century, using video to help with Google ratings, encourage new innovative ideas and help get more people using social media for marketing.”
Nikki is also currently undertaking her BNUC-S qualification, in order to be able to fly a UAS, unmanned aircraft system. This, she says, will add an enhancement to the business and be more cost effective for clients who otherwise may have to pay to hire a crane or Jib to get the film shots they want. She is excited too, that Oddsox will be one of just two businesses in Pembrokeshire to be able to offer such a range of film techniques.
“The aerial system with camera attached can be used for all sorts of projects, from marine conservation filming, getting into intricate places that would otherwise not be possible; to shots of music events, rallies or boating events. The possibilities are endless!”
Nikki is a member of WIRE, Women in Rural Enterprise, a support and networking group for women in business in rural areas. “I’m currently the only member from South Pembrokeshire, as a group leader offering my multimedia knowledge and support to help promote the group and push new ideas forward.”
The ultimate aim, for Oddsox, she says is to help local businesses who don’t always have a lot of money to promote themselves and to learn the skills they need to continue to market and grow.
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