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Rugby legends’ new coffee venture given transportation boost by Low Cost Vans

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Four former rugby legends have been given a helping hand getting their business moving by a local company that shared their passion for using business to inspire social aims – namely by donating a percentage of profits to cancer centre Velindre Fundraising.

Mike Phillips, James Hook, Shane Williams, and Lee Byrne – all former Ospreys, Wales, and British & Irish Lions players – have formed FabFour Coffee, a venture committed to creating great tasting coffee, whilst simultaneously contributing to a worthy cause.

Velindre Fundraising is the charity arm of Velindre Cancer Centre, which has been providing specialist treatment and supportive care to cancer patients in Wales for over 60 years. Money raised funds ground-breaking research and clinical trials, cutting edge treatments, specialist nurses, support services, therapies and equipment.

Upon hearing of the new venture, leading van leasing and contract hire company, Low Cost Vans wanted to help get their business moving and help with transportation – especially against the backdrop of uncertainty and restrictions in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Low Cost Vans, based in Skewen, Neath, has grown rapidly in the last 12 months, despite the coronavirus pandemic, gaining an additional 10 members of staff. Its growth plans include the recruitment of around eight additional members of staff to further boost its existing team during 2021.

Its success this year has meant that Low Cost Vans was willing and able to help and have supplied FabFour Coffee with a brand new Ford Transit Custom, free of charge – identical to one the company is giving way in an online Instagram competition.

Shane Williams, co-founder and director at FabFour Coffee, said: “Each of us has played rugby worldwide during our long careers, and our passion for coffee has been ignited by our shared experiences. Enjoying a coffee while spending time together as players has been a huge part of team culture everywhere we played, and now, with our playing careers having come to an end, enjoying coffee is taking on a new meaning for us.

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“We are also passionate about supporting our official charity partner Velindre Fundraising, whom we will be donating a percentage of our profits to, to help them after a tough 2020.”

Rod Lloyd, Managing Director of Low-Cost Vans, said: “The pandemic has hit many industries very hard and start-up businesses and charities have been particularly badly affected. That is why it’s so great to be in a position to help FabFour Coffee – who donate a percentage of their takings to Velindre Fundraising – as well as creating a van giveaway competition on Instagram, which should make the start of 2021 very special for one lucky prospective van owner.”

James Hook, co-founder and director at Fab Four Coffee, said: “We’re so pleased with our new Transit Custom from Low Cost Vans, it’s exactly what we need for our new business, and we can’t wait to get it out on the road. We’d like to give a big thank you to Low Cost Vans, from everyone at Fab Four Coffee, for sorting us out so quickly.”

The Low Cost Vans Instagram giveaway draw to win a Ford Transit Custom van – identical to the one given to FabFour Coffee – will be taking place at 5pm on Sunday 28 February. To enter visit their competition page.

Lead image: LowCost Vans owner Rod Lloyd (left) with members of the Fab Four Shane Williams, Lee Byrne and James Hook, Low Cost Vans have agreed to supply the Fab Four with their new commercial vehicle as they embark on their new enterprise. (Adrian White Photography)

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Llanelli

West Wales car dealership to double in size

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Dafen-based Llanelli Motor Company have broken ground on a new development that will see their forecourt double in size over the coming months.

Led by Managing Director Ian Jonathan, the two-phase project will see the independent car dealership increase the number of used vehicles it has on sale to over 400 by January 2023.

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“It’s certainly an exciting period for the business,” said Ian, “and with the significant changes to the used car market, we felt now was the right time to start the project, which has been in the pipeline for over five years.”

Although the business was potentially looking at 2020 as a start date for the developments, the Coronavirus Pandemic put the brakes on the project.

However, since the easing of lockdown restrictions and the delay in obtaining new vehicles, the used car market has seen an unprecedented spike in demand.

Dafen based Llanelli Motor Company is planning to double in size
The company have broken ground on an expansion that will see over 400 cars on sale by the end of January 2023

“The last 12 months have been exceptionally busy,” continued Ian.

“No sooner are we finalising our 140-point safety check on vehicles before placing them on the forecourt, than they are being purchased within a matter of days”.

With the ability to stock 150 nearly new vehicles of all makes and models at the moment, the 1-acre expansion will increase this to 250 by September before more than doubling it to 400 by the spring of 2023.

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In order to facilitate this growth, the company will also be entering a recruitment phase and looking to employ at least 10 new members of staff across its sales, workshop and admin teams as well as taking on new apprenticeships.

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Technology

£67k contract win with leading power tools specialists for Swansea’s Uplands Communications

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Uplands Communications is celebrating a major contract win to the tune of £67k, having closed a deal with a division of Techtronic Industries EMEA Ltd.

The deal sees the Swansea-headquartered telephony specialists supply connectivity for more than 130 users.

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Techtronic owns brands including Ryobi, Milwaukee and AEG. The company enjoyed record 2021 worldwide sales of US$13.2 billion and has more than 51,000 employees.

Paul Hooper, MD of Uplands Communications, which is based in Swansea, said: “We are pleased to forge a new partnership with Techtronic Industries EMEA Ltd, a leaders in its field which is committed to ensuring its customers receive the best experience whenever they interact with the business.

“The past two years have been challenging for businesses across all industries, including for telephony and communications, and, of course for construction and for their supply chain colleagues.

“However, we are seeing, across the board, companies becoming increasingly aware of the need to make sure their communications are in the best shape possible and are modern and fit for purpose.

“The pandemic has brought about a sea-change in the way consumers and businesses interact with each other. Carefully-tailored telephone and communications solutions are more essential than ever if businesses want to thrive.”

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Natasha Russell, Financial Accountant at Techtronic said: “We operate a multi-million pound operation across a range of products and sites and we deal with a broad customer base – both commercial and domestic.

“The solution we sought from Uplands will give us a more seamless billing functionality and smoother processes, as well as more robust day-to-day support. We are pleased to enter into an agreement with Uplands Communications and we look forward to our ongoing relationship with them.”

Uplands Communications, based at Swansea Enterprise Park, is a leading managed services company delivering flexible voice, data and mobile communications.

The firm, which has its HQ in Swansea and an office in Somerset, specialises in independent network management and providing bespoke, converged solutions that aren’t tied to technology and supplier.

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Money

64% of Wales employees set to leave due to cost of living

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couple talking while moving in new apartment

During the biggest cost-of-living crises most people will have ever experienced, only 6% of employees in Wales believe their employer is doing enough to support them through the crisis.

Even though staggering 72% believe their employer has a responsibility to support them through the current climate.

That’s according to new research from Blackhawk Network, which says that according to employees, employee benefits are no longer just added incentives, they are now a way for employers to support their staff.

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It says it’s now essential employers are informed on what employees want and ultimately need from benefits schemes to help guide them through the cost-of-living crisis.

Other key findings in Wales show 94% of employers agree that they have a duty to support their employees as the cost-of-living rises, with 79% of employees saying employee benefits play, or could play, an important role in improving the cost-of-living 

Almost two thirds (64%) would leave their current job in order to find an opportunity that provides better financial support during the current cost-of-living crisis. 

The findings come from research conducted by Blackhawk Network in conjunction with Sapio, to support the launch of its new Blackhawk Network Extras Benefits Platform.

Workplace benefits are hot property at a time of crisis  

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According to the UK-wide data, 85% of employers agree that they have a duty to support their employees as the cost-of-living rises. While raising wages might seem a simple fix, businesses are also impacted by rising costs and inflation making pay increases unviable. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing they can do to help. 83% of employees agree that workplace benefits play an important role in helping to balance finances as the cost-of-living continues to rise; and 95% of employers agree.

It is telling that almost a quarter (24%) of employees admit they’ve already used their benefits package more during the cost-of-living. In addition, almost three quarters (73%) of employer’s state that prospective employees are looking for employee benefits as part of the solution to the crisis.  

Employers must dial-up on support to have real impact  

The report says that dialling-up cost-of-living support through employee benefits is a must when talent is at risk. For example, salary sacrifice, where employees are offered the option to pay for services or products from their salary before they receive it to reduce tax, can be found with offers such as Cyclescheme, on technology or gym memberships, to save money that would otherwise eat into pay. However, there are still barriers to overcome.

When employees were asked what the term ‘salary sacrifice’ meant, almost three quarters (73%) admitted they did not fully understand it, including 18% who had not idea at all. In contrast, to almost all employers (98%) believing employees understand it to some degree. There is a clear disconnect between the employer and the employee, yet salary sacrifice can save employees money and help in mitigating the effects of the cost-of-living crisis. 

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If employers want to support employees, they need to make information about benefits, like salary sacrifice, more accessible and digestible to prove that it can have a real-life impact on their current financial situation by making their pay go further.

Over half (53%) of employees say they would be more likely to use salary sacrifice schemes if they had a better understanding of how they work. But this is an issue that only employers can fix. Better communication is essential to close the perception gap on employee benefits to be the support employees want and need during the cost-of-living crisis. 

Chris Ronald, VP EMEA Incentives & Operations at Blackhawk Network said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that employers have a vital role to play supporting their employees during the cost-of-living crisis. But the rising costs also mean that businesses are unable to offer blanket wage increases.

“Our research takes an in-depth look into the current state of employee benefits and the perceptions of the employees who are in a position to use them. With the release of this research, we hope to give businesses the tools they need to improve their benefit packages so they continue to support staff throughout the crisis.” 

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