blank
Connect with us

Business

‘Radical intervention’ needed as one in seven Welsh high street shops empty

Published

on

closed hanged on door

As a new report reveals one in seven Welsh high street shops lie empty, a Welsh Government Minister admits that radical intervention is needed to save Wales’ town centres.

The report by Wales’ Auditor General has prompted calls for action by the Welsh Labour Government.

Reasons for the decline of the high street have been attributed, by Adrian Crompton, to changing consumer habits and expectations, advances in technology, past policy choices, and measures taken to counter the spread of coronavirus.

A second report ‘Small Towns, Big Issues’ follows an in-depth study of three Welsh town and city centres – Bangor, Bridgend and Haverfordwest. It was led by Professor Karel Williams – a professor at Manchester Business School.

Both reports conclude that town and city centres are at the heart of Welsh life but addressing the challenges they face requires ‘imagination and ambitious leadership’, backed up by ‘co-ordinated, cross-government decision making’.

Specific recommendations for both Welsh Government and for local authorities include everything from access to public transport and effective promotion of town centres to the simplification of funding streams.

Advertisement
Lee Waters MS

Welsh Government Minister, Lee Waters MS admitted that “We need joined-up intervention to lift town centres, and an effort to tackle out-of-town development, if we are to succeed in turning things around”.

The minister also stressed the need to focus on dealing with out of town developments.

“Town and city centres are the places most of us can walk to, or get public transport from, and they provide common access points into many transport routes,” he said.

“We want better jobs and services in town centres where people can access them without needing to get in their car.”

“Both reports make clear that we have all failed to control out of town development and we need to mobilise alliances for change in our town centres to turn things round.”

At an event in Bangor, Mr Waters unveiled a new Town Centre First plan, meaning that town and city centre sites should be the first consideration for all decisions on the location of workplaces and services.

Advertisement

He also announced the establishment of three sub-groups, one of which will lead on finding ways to incentivise town centre development but also disincentive out of town development. A second group will look at how funding offered under the Transforming Towns programme can be simplified. The final group will look at planning and engaging with communities so that they have a say in what happens in their town.

Advertisement

Paul Davies MS

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Economy Minister Paul Davies MS said: “It is a sad fact that the traditional high street has been struggling over the last few years as we change the way we shop, but this report is a much welcomed wake-up call for those with the ability to put change in motion.

“Politicians of all hues are constantly trying to keep banks and cash machines in our towns, for example, but it’s just as important to address what can be done for the future to aid our economic recovery and support jobs.

“Measures such as scrapping car parking fees, abolishing rates for small businesses, and introducing job support schemes to help micro businesses grow are other proposals we hope the Welsh Government look at, in addition to the British Government’s Community Renewal Fund.

“However, it is undeniable that the pandemic has played a part in harming the high street. Given the distinct actions of the Welsh Labour Government to counter coronavirus and their effect on the economy, this only further demonstrates the need for a Wales-specific Covid inquiry.”

Advertisement

(Lead image: Kaique Rocha / Pexels.com)

Advertisement

 

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Llanelli

West Wales car dealership to double in size

Published

on

By

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.

Advertisement

“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.

Advertisement

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.

Continue Reading

Technology

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

Published

on

By

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.

Advertisement

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.”

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Money

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

Published

on

By

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.

Advertisement

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  

Advertisement

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. 

Advertisement

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.” 

Advertisement
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