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Port’s 2020 Annual Report highlights challenging trading conditions balanced alongside continued diversification progress

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The Port of Milford Haven’s 2020 Annual Report and Accounts highlights the challenging trading conditions felt in 2020 due to Covid-19.

Designated a frontline operation as part of the pandemic response, the Port’s focus for the reporting period was not just financial; it’s aims were to ensure the safety of its own employees, maintaining support for other key worker operations on the Milford Haven Waterway and wider community, whilst progressing its ambition for diversification.

LNG shipping remained strong and demonstrated the Waterway’s importance as a nationally vital energy hub with, at one point during the pandemic, 85% of the UK’s gas needs being satisfied by the Waterway terminals. However, overall shipping was down with cargo volume falling to 33.5 tonnes (2019: 35m) reflecting the significantly reduced demand for transportation fuels. Total revenue was also down, 10% year on year at £25.2m (2019: £28.1m). This had a major impact on profitability with an operating loss of £0.7m reported for the year (2019: £5.7m). A return to profitability is anticipated in 2021.

By prioritising safe working practice, the Port was able to manage the safety of its employees and maintain frontline operations with no significant impact to vessel traffic during the year. Investment also continued in the Port’s core maritime operations to maximise long-term resilience and reflect a new core value of sustainability; ensuring that decisions and investments make are carefully considered for their impact both on our business operations and the wider environment.

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Progress was also made with the Port’s flagship projects, Milford Waterfront and Pembroke Dock Marine. With the hospitality industry stalled and events cancelled, the Port still made a significant step forward in its plans to strengthen its Milford Waterfront proposition with construction beginning on the 100 bed, Tŷ Hotel. Operated and managed by The Celtic Collection – the team behind the iconic Celtic Manor Resort – this new addition to Milford Waterfront will form part of The Celtic Collection’s portfolio of Tŷ Hotels.

A 100-bedroom hotel being built as part of the Milford Waterfront development in Milford Haven
(Image: Milford Waterfront / Holder Mathias Architects)

At Pembroke Port, the Pembroke Dock Marine business case was approved and the associated planning application was submitted. The Port is investing £13.5m in the development alongside funding from the Swansea Bay City Deal and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. With its focus on supporting the growth of a new energy sector, it will complement and widen the Port’s profile as the UK’s largest energy Port. Both developments play key roles in the Port’s aim to strengthen Pembrokeshire’s long-term prosperity and create opportunities throughout the community as part of the post-Covid recovery.

In terms of looking ahead, the Port sees strong potential for additional developments that will continue to support the offshore floating wind industry’s keen interest in the Celtic Sea, as well as supporting developments in hydrogen. Maximising the potential for UK industrial growth from such large-scale developments form a key tenet in the Port’s call for Freeport status in Pembrokeshire and will ensure the strong energy cluster remains for Wales’ west coast. 

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Commenting on the year Chris Martin, Chair of the Port, said: “It is difficult to imagine a more challenging backdrop to trading than in 2020. The spread of the coronavirus global pandemic swept away many norms. I was proud to see the Port designated a key worker operation, and very proud of the way our colleagues dealt with the significant challenges to ensure supplies kept moving during this critical time. I remain deeply impressed by the resilience of the business and the aptitude all our staff have shown in these extraordinary times. Growth and investment will be critical in securing a strong post-Covid recovery and there are exciting opportunities ahead. By working alongside our communities, we can build an exceptional future for Pembrokeshire.”

Chief Executive, Andy Jones, continued: “2020 was the year that tested every aspect of our standing as a Trust Port. The pandemic has had a clear negative impact on our financial results in 2020, however, it is not the only lens through which I would choose to judge our accomplishments in this very unusual year. As a business, we acquitted ourselves well, ensured we had the resources to weather the storm and delivered the services our customers and stakeholders require and expect us to deliver while also bringing a fresh perspective on our collective need for sustainability. Our role enabling a critical link in the UK’s supply chain of energy and goods was demonstrated in abundance. We made good progress with partners to further our exciting plans on both sides of the Waterway.”

The 2020 Annual Report and Accounts can be viewed here.


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Energy intensive industries could get further relief under new Government proposals

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High electricity using businesses like steel and paper mills could see further relief under new proposals to help subsidise their electricity costs.

The UK Government is consulting on the option to increase the level of exemption for certain environmental and policy costs from 85% of costs up to 100%.

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This reflects higher UK industrial electricity prices than those of other countries including in Europe, which could hamper investment, competition and commercial viability for hundreds of businesses in industries including steel, paper, glass, ceramics, and cement, and risk them relocating from the UK.

The proposal would help around 300 businesses supporting 60,000 jobs in the UK’s industrial heartlands. Looking at ways to reduce the cost of doing business for key industries would help secure the future of domestic manufacturing and maintain a competitive business environment in the UK, ensuring economic growth and protecting thousands of jobs across the country.

The Energy Intensive Industries Exemption Scheme provides businesses with relief for the costs of renewable levies, including Contracts for Difference, the Renewable Obligation and Feed in Tariffs, in their energy bills.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “British manufacturers are the lifeblood of our economy and central to our plans to overcome this period of economic uncertainty.

“With global energy prices at record highs, it is essential we explore what more we can do to deliver a competitive future for those strategic industries so we can cut production costs and protect jobs across the UK.”

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Director General of UK Steel Gareth Stace said: “The publication of this consultation is a significant step forward in delivering competitive electricity prices for the UK steel sector and should provide some much-needed relief in the face of extremely challenging circumstances at the current time. While there remain difficulties, this announcement demonstrates that UK Government understands the challenges of British industry and continues to support steelmakers and steel communities across the country.”

(Lead image: Gareth James / Geograph / Creative Commons 2.0)

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Business

Fashion students design sustainable leggings for Commonwealth Games thanks to Llanelli manufacturer

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Two Fashion Design students at the University of South Wales (USW) have designed leggings for Team Wales athletes – made from sustainable materials – to wear at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Bethan Jones and Olivia Soady, both in their final year, won a design competition set by Commonwealth Games Wales in partnership with USW.

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The students worked closely with Onesta, an award-winning sustainable clothing brand based in Llanelli, to bring their designs to life, and in total, Onesta manufactured 360 pairs of leggings for Team Wales.

They were officially revealed last week (Friday 1 July) when the Queen’s Baton Relay passed through Llanelli and stopped at the Onesta studio, where the baton-bearer, Wales Women’s rugby international Jasmine Joyce, modelled the Team Wales kit.

Onesta has only been trading since June 2020 but is already kitting out the likes of Rosie Eccles, Anwen Butten and Alys Thomas as they represented Wales at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The collaborative project was developed with funding from the USW Exchange Partnership and Engagement Programme, which enables organisations to directly benefit from scoping and feasibility support, as well as access to USW’s academic expertise.

Following a brief from Team Wales, Bethan and Olivia’s designs focused heavily on sustainability, ensuring the leggings are practical, long-lasting and have a clear Welsh identity.

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Olivia said: “From the offset it was made very clear in the brief that these leggings were meant to be worn and to last, which is something that Bethan and I took into consideration throughout the design process. I’d read an article on all these amazing things which had originated in Wales, which gave me the idea of our country being small but mighty.”

Bethan and Olivia’s legging design
(Image: University of South Wales)

Bethan added: “Olivia and I both had a very similar concept. Mine was all about Welsh power symbols, and being proud to be Welsh, alongside the importance of sustainable production. So we merged those ideas together and got something very contemporary, which we’re really proud of. Being able to work on this project with Team Wales is such an exciting opportunity for me, and something which really aligns with my values as a person and as a designer.”

Owner and founder of Onesta, Gabriella Diana, said: “We are proud to have been selected as the manufacturer of casual leggings for Team Wales, designed in collaboration with USW students.

“Manufacturing in Wales not only lowers the carbon footprint of our clothing, but also puts money back into our local economy, strengthening industry here in the UK, and providing skilled jobs to local people and graduates. Plus, we know all our garments are made by happy hands.

“Working on this project with Team Wales has been really exciting, and we have loved being involved in developing sustainable sportswear for the Commonwealth Games.”

Stacey Grant-Canham, lecturer in Fashion Design at USW who worked with Bethan and Olivia on this project, said: “The designers are fully immersed in the industry from day one on the Fashion Design course here at USW; both taking advantage of our option of a year out in industry, they have the commercial awareness and creativity underpinned with a strong knowledge of circularity for fashion. It’s a real winning combination. The fact that they opted to collaborate is testament to the holistic way they see their place in this global industry too.”

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Bethan and Olivia’s legging design
(Image: University of South Wales)

Cathy Williams, Head of Engagement at Commonwealth Games Wales, added: “’The partnership between Commonwealth Games Wales and USW has become stronger and stronger over the past few years, and it’s great that once again we can bring in young and talented individuals like Bethan and Olivia to create something special for the team.

“We first ran this competition with USW for the Gold Coast 2018 Games, and we’ve built on that success, and we love seeing the athletes wearing the finished design.”

Chris Jenkins, CEO of Commonwealth Games Wales, said: ‘’Working alongside USW on such projects is really important for the organisation; not only does it provide a platform for young designers and university students to get a feel for the industry in the ‘real’ world, but for us, it opens up our support network to people who wouldn’t necessarily be drawn into sport.

“The Commonwealth Games is more than a sporting event – it’s an opportunity to bring in communities across the country and support Wales on a global platform. Congratulations to both designers, and I’d like to thank USW and Onesta for all their hard work.”

Since it commenced trading, over two years ago, Carmarthenshire County Council has supported Onesta, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also to realise the company’s long-term ambitions. In June 2021, Onesta was awarded an Economic Resilience Fund grant of £2,500 by Carmarthenshire County Council as support to cover the business bills during the COVID-19 restrictions of May and June 2021. They were also awarded a £2000 Non-Domestic Rates Grant during the COVID-19 support schemes in February 2022.

In April 2022, Onesta was awarded a Business Growth & Recovery Grant of £10,000 to assist with the purchase of manufacturing equipment and workshop and office furniture. The grant money will fund a cutting table, overlockers, cutting machine, industrial iron, industrial sewing machine and lockstitch, which would assist in the manufacturing of the clothing for the Wales Commonwealth Team for the 2022 Games.

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The company’s founder, Gabriella Diana, was nominated by the Council for the Wales Start Up Awards in 2021 in which she went on to win the Rising Star category.

Since then, Onesta has also won the Marie Claire Sustainability Award for Best Sustainable Small Brand 2021, UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Award, and was a finalist in the Cardiff Life Awards 2021 and the GBEA Awards 2021.  

Onesta was highly commended in the Heroes of Net Zero competition at a special awards ceremony, hosted by Intuit, at the COP26 international climate change summit in Glasgow. More than 160 businesses entered the competition, making a commitment at the UK Business Climate Hub to achieve net zero by 2050, in line with the government’s own climate commitment. They were highly commended in the micro business category for demonstrating a range of measures taken on their journey to net zero, including sourcing eco-friendly materials locally, removing toxic chemicals used in manufacturing and re-purposing fabric scraps to make sustainable products for Surfers Against Sewage.

Gabriella Diana, Founder and Owner of Onesta added: “I’m very grateful to Carmarthenshire County Council for the financial support we have received to, not only survive the COVID-19 restrictions but also to build the business and strive.”

Since launching the Business Growth & Start-Up Grant scheme in early 2022, Carmarthenshire County Council has approved 61 business grants to Carmarthenshire businesses. Of which 44 approvals were Business Growth & Recovery Grants, totalling £299,225.17 and 17 approvals were Business Start Up Grants, totalling £117,924.31.

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Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure Culture and Tourism said: “As a local authority, we are delighted to have been able to invest in Gabriella and her company to enable her to grow the business. We are also very proud to have provided financial support to Onesta, and other companies based in Carmarthenshire, to weather the difficult COVID-19 restrictions of the past two and a half years.

“We have all enjoyed watching Wales’ athletes compete at the recent Commonwealth Games and the fact that they are wearing a kit that is made in Carmarthenshire has been a source of much pride for Carmarthenshire County Council.”

(Lead image: University of South Wales)

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Bridgend

Business boost for Bridgend Indoor Market

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Bridgend Indoor Market is set to benefit from a funding boost to help develop small business opportunities and increase consumer interest and footfall.

A series of popup initiatives are being developed at the market in Bridgend’s Rhiw Shopping Centre to create opportunities for business start-ups and micro-business to establish and grow.

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The council hopes this will lead to greater footfall and dwell time in the market.

The project aims to not only makes spaces available, but to also help broker the process, with wraparound business support and advice, as well as some small grants to further assist business development.

One new entrepreneur taking part in the pop-up initiative Katrina Evans, said: “This is a great opportunity to develop my small business, and I am looking forward to trialling my products in front of a wider audience at Bridgend Indoor Market.

“I’m really grateful for the support I have received from the Pop Up Wales initiative, and I can’t wait to get Kat’s Wax, Wick and Wonders up and running.”

The pop-up initiative is thanks to a £120,000 funding package from the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund that the council is using to deliver its Bridgend Elevate and Prosper Project (EAP).

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An additional £11,800 match funding has been received via the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns initiative, which is a Welsh Government programme providing support for the revitalisation of town centres in Wales.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Councillor Neelo Farr said: “This is exciting news for people in the county borough, and an excellent opportunity for start-up businesses and potential entrepreneurs to test out their business ideas in the marketplace.

“The level of financial support and advice offered through this initiative presents an ideal opportunity for individuals to establish an enterprise with very little outlay, offering the best chance of success while investing in and helping to nurture the local economy.”

(Lead image: Bridgend County Borough Council)

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