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Economy Minister encourages businesses to consider benefits of international trading



ECONOMY MINISTER Vaughan Gething has visited a successful Welsh exporter to see first-hand the challenges and opportunities facing the business following the coronavirus pandemic, and encouraged more Welsh companies to capitalise on Welsh Government support to export their goods and services internationally.

Gwent-based Industrial Automation and Control Ltd (IAC) was established in 1989 and is one of the leading industrial control systems integrators in the UK. It has a particular expertise in the manufacture of variable speed drive systems, with its products used by many of the world’s leading electrical brands.

IAC, which employs over 65 people at a modern facility in Newport and another 30 in a number of destinations around the world, currently has export orders currently has export orders in excess of £3 million. Exporting has contributed around 50 per cent of the company’s turnover since 2000.

Welsh Government support has helped IAC win new export business in both new and existing overseas markets. It has attended Welsh Government trade missions to Canada, the UAE, and South Africa and received grant support to undertake an independent business development visit to China.

The visit comes after the Minister announced the Welsh Government will invest over £4 million over the next year to support Welsh businesses find new export opportunities in global markets, and help deliver the commitments set out in the Export Action Plan for Wales. 

IAC also operates a successful four-year apprenticeship programme, and the Minister met with a number of current IAC apprentices during a tour of the manufacturing facility. The business’ first apprentice joined more than 25 years ago and still works for IAC today.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Encouraging the growth of Welsh exports is a key Programme for Government commitment.

“The comprehensive and far reaching programme of export support we recently announced will help companies such as IAC to create new jobs and apprenticeships here in Newport and the surrounding area.

“Exporting is a key part of IAC’s businesses and I’m delighted that Welsh Government support has helped them explore new markets and secure new export business over the years.

“I encourage more businesses to make use of the support on offer from Welsh Government to start exporting the many unique and cutting edge products and services we offer her in Wales internationally.

“This period in our history will undoubtedly be one of the most challenging for our businesses and workers, but it also offers rich new opportunities to diversify and deliver more sustainable business models.”

IAC Managing Director Peter Lewis added: “It was great to meet a minister who is passionate about the same things as IAC.

“For us, training apprentices and trading internationally are absolutely fundamental to the growth of our business and the support we’ve received from Welsh Government in exploring new overseas markets has helped us achieve our export ambitions and continues to do so”.

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New owners at Cenarth Falls Holiday Park in Newcastle Emlyn



SAVILLS, on behalf of a private client, has completed the sale of Cenarth Falls Holiday Park in Cenarth, Newcastle Emlyn, Wales, to Boutique Resorts Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

The holiday park is set on an attractively landscaped site extending approximately 11.52 acres (4.66 ha) which includes 1.92 acres of woodland. The holiday park has planning permission for 89 static caravan pitches and 30 mixed touring caravan pitches. At the entrance of the park there is a reception, sales office and games room. The property also provides a high quality fitness, hospitality and entertaining space including indoor swimming pool, gym, bar and function room licensed for a maximum of 290 guests, and owner’s accommodation comprising a three bedroom bungalow and adjoining two bedroom cottage.

Cenarth Falls Holiday Park is situated within the historic and picturesque village of Cenarth, Ceredigion, bordering Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The village is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which attracts numerous visitors to the area. The River Teifi is renowned for excellent salmon and sea trout (sewin) fishing and the town of Cardigan is 10 minutes away with an array of shops and amenities. There are numerous sandy beaches nearby and many other activities on offer in the locality including walking, golf and water sports such as kayaking.

Richard Prestwich, Director in the Leisure and Trade Related team at Savills, says: “It has been a privilege to sell such a good quality holiday park, nurtured to its 5 star status over a 34 year period by the former family owner. The new owners are no strangers to high quality holiday businesses being an award winning holiday brand and they will look to improve the quality of the business further to complement their other holiday parks, with the nearest being Fishguard Bay Holiday Park.”

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Welsh start-up numbers soar but insolvency-related activities also rise in Wales



MORE than 4,300 new businesses were set up in Wales in the first quarter of 2022 – with almost half registered in March alone – according to new research from insolvency and restructuring trade body R3 in Wales.

The figures, which are based on an analysis of data provided by Creditsafe, show the number of start-ups in Wales have risen from 372 in January to 2,116 in March – an increase of 469%, which is the biggest percentage change in any region or nation across the UK.

Wales also had the second highest rise in newly established firms between December 2021 and March 2022 with an increase of 385%, falling only behind the West Midlands which saw an increase of 462%.

The R3 research also indicates that insolvency-related activity, which includes liquidator appointments, administrator appointments and creditors’ meetings, remains relatively low in Wales when compared to the rest of the UK.

In the first three months of 2022 there were 266 insolvency-related activities in Wales – the second lowest of any UK region or nation, behind Northern Ireland, which only had 44.

The data also showed an increase of 123% in insolvency-related activities between March and February of this year and an increase of almost 200% between March and January.

R3 Chair for Wales Charlotte May comments: “I’m delighted to see that despite the financial impact of the pandemic, entrepreneurism in Wales continues to grow.

“The first three months of the year have seen a tidal wave of business activity and it’s inspiring to see new business owners taking the opportunity to respond to new opportunities and changing consumer demands.”

Charlotte, who is Associate Director for South West and Wales at Manolete in Bristol, continues: “While the number of start-ups is encouraging, we are also seeing insolvency levels in Wales slowly increase too, which, given the current economic climate, is not surprising.

“Between increased creditor pressure, low consumer spending and rising inflation, this is the most difficult period for businesses since the height of the pandemic.

“Anyone thinking about setting up a new business should not be discouraged but should certainly be prepared for a challenging year. The first few months of trading are always tough and the current economic pressures will only amplify these struggles.

“Business owners in Wales noticing signs of financial distress should not struggle alone. Financial difficulties don’t go away without intervention and by seeking advice from a qualified, regulated source at the earliest point there will be more options available to help resolve the issue and hopefully return the business to a healthier position.”

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Welsh Water confirms extra support for vulnerable customers



The company already helps over 130,000 customers to pay their bills

WELSH WATER is encouraging customers who are struggling to pay their water bills to contact the company to discuss what support may be available to them.

The company already helps over 130,000 customers to pay their bills.  

It offers a range of financial support to those who need it most and this has become more important due to the increasing cost of living and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company has confirmed that most of its household customers will see an increase in their typical water and wastewater bills of between 3.8% and 6.6% from next April.  

This is due to the significant increase in the rate of inflation, in particular the rising costs of power, chemicals and the materials needed to produce drinking water and treat wastewater.  

The “Average household bill” will increase by 0.1%, however, this figure includes social tariffs which are heavily discounted and therefore different to the typical increase most customers will see.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is the only not-for-profit water company in England and Wales, and supplies services to over 3 million people in Wales and some adjoining parts of Herefordshire and Deeside.

The company’s not for profit model has made it possible to earmark £12.4 million in 2022/23 to help up to 54,000 additional eligible customers.

Welsh Water is urging customers who may be facing difficulties to contact the company as soon as possible.

This will allow customers to discuss the range of available options including flexible payment schemes or installing a water meter which would benefit households as they reduce their use of water.

Welsh Water’s Chief Financial Officer, Mike Davis, said:  “The cost of many supplies which are essential to our business has increased significantly over the past 12 months.

“Such increases are being witnessed across all sectors and we are not immune to these pressures. However, we’re working as hard as we can to limit the impact on our customers and keep increases as low as possible.

“This is why we are making support available for an extra 54,000 vulnerable customers, in addition to the 130,000 who already benefit from the different ways we help customers to pay their bills.

“We would encourage all customers who are struggling to make ends meet at this difficult time to contact us to see what support we can provide.

“We also ask all customers to think about their water usage and to contact us if they believe that they could benefit from being on a water meter.

“We install these meters free of charge and have a calculator on our website to help customers understand what their bills could be if they switched to a meter.

“Whilst they can also be removed without charge within two years, they often help some customers to manage their water usage and potentially save money, while also saving water and protecting the environment.”

Rhodri Williams, Wales Chair for the Consumer Council for Water (CCW), said:  “Households are facing a wave of rising living costs so it’s vital that customers ask for help now so they can access any untapped support from Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.

“Some households can potentially save hundreds of pounds by switching to a water meter, while others on a low income may be eligible for significantly reduced bills. Simple steps to reduce our hot water use can also take some of the heat out of rising energy costs.”

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