blank
Connect with us

Business

Report on performance of Welsh economy shows new business start-ups increase but value of exports drop in 2021

Published

on

The number of new business start-ups in Wales is outperforming all other areas of the UK with an increase of 31% in quarter one of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

The effects of Covid-19 and the initial post-Brexit trade agreement period on the Welsh economy have been tracked as part of Economic Intelligence Wales’ (EIW) annual report on the performance of the Welsh economy in 2020/21.

Published today 24/08/21 the report shows:

  • In Q1 2021 business starts in Wales are up 31 % on Q1 2020 (14% in UK) and business closures are down 1% in the same period compared to an increase of 7% across the UK.
  • The value of Welsh exports in the year to Q1 2021 dropped by 27% while imports decreased by 25%, the highest of all UK countries.
  • The proportion of Welsh SMEs using finance which were concerned about their ability to repay debt, increased from 24% in Q3 2020 (21% for UK SMEs) to 30% in Q4 2020 (24% for UK SMEs).
  • The Development Bank of Wales’ interventions have been crucial during the Covid-19 crisis. Combining its business as usual investment levels with the Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme support meant that every £1m of investment generated an estimated £4.7m of Welsh GVA.

Max Munday from the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff Business School said: “The annual report reveals something of a Welsh recovery from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic and with an improvement in new business starts in the first quarter of the year. However, business prospects in the first half were still heavily impacted over uncertainty regarding Covid-19 regulations.”

“The data provides evidence of the important role played by the Development Bank through the worst of the pandemic period in supporting Welsh SMEs. Indeed, while much of the regional economy has seen activity fall in the year to April 2021, it has been an extremely busy time for the Bank in working to safeguard activity in our small firm base.”

The Economic Intelligence Wales report includes the Bank of England’s projection that UK GDP will rise by 7.25% in 2021, an improved forecast compared to the January 2021 prediction of 5% but the latest available quarterly GDP estimates for Wales for Q3 2020, demonstrate a 14.4% quarterly increase.

Despite the early signs of a sustained recovery, UK business investment contracted by 2.3% in the quarter to Q1 2021, remaining well below the pre-pandemic level in Q4 2019 (-18.4%). This is linked to businesses stockpiling during the Brexit transition period and a 14% contraction in UK trade with EU Member States. For Wales, the value of exports in the year to Q1 2021 dropped by 27% while imports decreased by 25%, the highest of all UK countries.

Economic Intelligence Wales also warns that there are projections for an increase in Welsh unemployment from 4.1% in 2020/21 to 6% in 2021/22. This is likely to coincide with the end of the furlough scheme.

Advertisement

Throughout 2020/21, Economic Intelligence Wales has tracked how these macro-economic events have affected the Welsh economy. The report shows that Wales stands out in the way the market has adjusted to the turbulence. The UK as a whole has seen both business starts and closures trending upwards but Wales really is outperforming other areas of the UK with business starts in Wales up by 31% and closures coming down 1% compared to an increase of 7% across the UK.

Giles Thorley, Chief Executive of the Development Bank of Wales

Giles Thorley, Chief Executive of the Development Bank of Wales said: “The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for most businesses across Wales but we’ve also seen a record number of business start-ups as entrepreneurism and creativity shine through. Today’s report by Economic Intelligence Wales shows just how events have really fuelled the increased demand for funding of both start-ups and established businesses, including our Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme that provided much needed cashflow support.

“Furthermore, the data provides important insight into the demand for finance across Wales and helps to improve our understanding of SMEs and their role within the Welsh economy helping us to  focus on the Development Bank’s wider economic impact by measuring our contribution and acting as a benchmark to guide our investment decisions.

“With every £1m of our combined business as usual and Covid-19 Wales Business Loan scheme investment generating an estimated £4.7m of Welsh GVA, we remain focused on providing sustainable and effective finance for Welsh businesses that drives recovery post-Covid and unlocks the economic potential of Wales.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Business

Welsh and UK Governments agree to establish Freeports in Wales

Published

on

By

The Welsh Government has reached agreement with the UK Government on the establishment of Freeports in Wales.

Welsh Ministers have agreed to support Freeport policies in Wales following the UK Government’s agreement to meet the Welsh Government’s demands that UK Ministers provide at least £26m of non-repayable starter funding for any Freeport established in Wales, which represents a parity with the deals offered to English Freeports.

Advertisement

The UK Government have agreed to meet a number of other demands – including that both Governments will act on the basis of a ‘partnership of equals’ to deliver any Freeports in Wales.

In addition, both Governments have agreed a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated clearly it will operate in a manner that aligns with the Welsh Government’s policies on fair work and environmental sustainability, including the commitment to Wales becoming a net-zero carbon nation.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Following considerable engagement between our Governments, I’m pleased we have been able to reach agreement with UK Ministers to establish Freeports in Wales. The agreement we have reached is fair to Wales, and respects the Welsh Government’s responsibilities in devolved policy areas.

“However, we have made it clear to the UK Government that a Freeport will only be implemented if it can be demonstrated, using robust evidence and analysis, that it will support our fair work agenda and deliver long-term, sustainable benefits for Wales, and value for money for Welsh taxpayers.

“I very much hope that the UK Government’s willingness to work with the Welsh Government as equals on Freeports can provide a positive model for future co-operation between our governments on other initiatives.”

Advertisement

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said: “I am delighted that Wales is the latest area in the UK set to benefit from a new Freeport.

“The UK Government’s ambitious Freeports agenda will help to level up our coastal communities and create new opportunities for people right across the country.

“Together with the Welsh Government, I look forward to seeing innovative proposals come forward that demonstrate tangible benefits for the people of Wales.”

In addition, Welsh and UK Ministers have agreed that the UK Government will provide tax incentives for Freeports in Wales in parity with Freeports in other parts of the United Kingdom for the reserved taxes that have been designated to advance the policy aims. The Welsh Government will design tax reliefs from local and devolved taxes (Non-Domestic Rates and Land Transaction Tax) to support the policy aims.

Both Governments say they will remain open to the possibility of a multi-site Freeport in Wales. In recognition of Wales’ unique economic geography and the Welsh Government’s aspirations for economic development in Wales, the UK Government is willing to relax the 45 km boundary limit for a multi-site Freeport solution, should there be a sufficiently compelling case for doing so.

Advertisement

Both Governments will also remain open to the possibility of allowing more than one Freeport in Wales, should they be presented with a sufficiently compelling business case.

As with English Freeports, a fair and open competitive process will be used to determine where the policy should be implemented in Wales. Both Governments will work together to co-design the process for Freeport site selection, and both will have an equal say in all decisions throughout the implementation process. This includes the final decision on site selection.

Both Governments have begun the process of designing the bid prospectus for the competition and further details about the timing of next steps will be released in due course.

Continue Reading

Business

Swansea digital agency iCreate enters the metaverse with bespoke digital environments

Published

on

By

Swansea-based creative agency iCreate is entering the metaverse by creating 3D visual environments for Dubai-based NFT boutique Jumi – a new outlet for curated digital art.

The metaverse hit the headlines last year when Facebook’s parent company rebranded to Meta, reflecting the growing potential of the internet to offer an interactive virtual world through AI and 3D digital animation.

Advertisement

The metaverse offers social connection through technology, interaction with brands and businesses, and online recreation.

It encompasses everything from online video games to virtual shops where you can digitally try on items before you buy them, and bespoke venues for online events of all kinds.

It’s expected to expand into an online world where people will have their own virtual avatars which they take from one virtual environment to another, purchasing virtual products for them and housing them in virtual homes.

This is where iCreate – which specialises in creating digital environments – comes in. The company provides CGIs, 3D flythrough animations, VR tours and marketing brochures to the off-plan property sector.

From interactive, customisable home interiors that enable buyers to plan every detail of their dream home, through to large-scale digital animations of new housing developments, iCreate is adept at creating virtual environments that look and feel like the real thing.

Advertisement

Now it’s teaming up with Jumi and other partners to create digital environments that will never be built in the real world, but will exist in the metaverse, where people’s avatars can explore and socialise in them.

A key aspect of the metaverse is non-fungible tokens (NFTs): digital assets that can be bought and traded. These are increasingly hitting the headlines as everyone from independent artists to big brands creates and sells digital-only products, music, artwork and more.

Dawn Lyle (right) and the team at iCreate

Jumy, which completed a $1.2M seed funding round last year, is the ultimate NFT boutique marketplace for exclusive digital art. All artworks are curated from the world’s most creative digital artists, to guarantee outstanding quality.

The platform is the world’s first to offer a fully integrated digital art experience where visitors will be able to purchase pieces with payment cards, trade their NFTs, order NFT frames (digital frames for NFT art) and flex their NFTs on metaverse – all in one place.

By collaborating with Jumi, iCreate will make beautiful, exclusive digital environments for displaying NFTs in the metaverse. From here, it’s expected that a new market in bespoke virtual homes and offices will develop over the coming years, as more aspects of all our lives are lived in the metaverse.

Dawn Lyle, iCreate’s co-founder, said: “We’re delighted to have formed this new partnership with Jumi and to be taking our bespoke digital environments into the metaverse.

Advertisement

“The metaverse offers such a wealth of possibilities, and over the coming years it will become increasingly common to play, meet and do business with people all over the world in virtual settings.

“We’re excited to be creating stunning digital environments in which these activities can take place; in the metaverse, there are no limitations and it’s possible to bring dreams to life, creating astonishing virtual places that delight and surprise. It gives us the opportunity to put all our creative skills to use in exciting new ways and we can’t wait to get started.”

Continue Reading

Business

River Island launches its brand new Swansea concept store this weekend

Published

on

By

Fashion chain River Island is revealing its brand new concept store at Morfa Retail Park in Swansea on Saturday (7 May).

Located at the former New Look store at Unit 6 on the Brunel Way shopping centre, the new store is just a few doors down from its previous outlet, although promises to be an even bigger and better boutique shopping experience.

Advertisement

Located across two floors, the 8,253 square foot store has been specially curated to the tastes of Swansea shoppers according to the fashion chain.

Set across one level, womenswear will occupy just over half the space, with the remainder split between menswear and kidswear, stocking kids, mini and baby.

To celebrate the new opening, River Island will be hosting a launch event weekend in-store on the 7th and 8th of May, where shoppers can expect to hear celebratory sounds with in-store DJ sets, whilst the first lucky 100 customers through the doors will receive a £10 gift card which can be redeemed in-store or online.

Frances Baker, River Island Property Director said: “River Island is thrilled to be relocating and open ing a new boutique store in Swansea, Morfa as part of our segmentation programme.

“We are excited to introduce our concept store to our existing loyal customers, with exciting opportunities to acquire new customers with our new look-and-feel store.”

Advertisement

River Island say the store upgrade strengthens its 300 strong estate and solidifies its message of “standing by the high street”, a campaign set up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to show solidarity with other high street brands negatively hit by the effects of the pandemic.

The fashion chain say that by investing in finding ways to encourage and entice customers to return to in-person shopping it hopes to “enhance and improve the shopping journey for its customers”.

(Lead image: River Island)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News