Category: News

Roads of Castles in Wonderland lead to prosperity

Wxm Bus Prof 53

Plans have been unveiled for a brand new tourism route created especially for the increasing number of Japanese visitors fuelling the tourism boom in North Wales.

The Roads of Castles in Wonderland initiative was revealed by Jim Jones, the managing director of North Wales Tourism, who said the region was now a big hit with visitors from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Mr Jones told a meeting of Wrexham Business Professionals at the town’s Ramada Hotel there had been an 84 per cent increase in Japanese visitors in the past two years, with almost 2,400 of them between April and September of this year coming via travel agencies that have not previously had North Wales on their itineraries.

The group is made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professional firms of solicitors, accountants and other business professionals working together to raise the profile of enterprise and expertise that exists in the region and beyond.

According to Mr Jones, North Wales Tourism has been working closely with the high-powered Japanese Association of Travel Agents (JATA).

Earlier this year he took a seven-strong on group from JATA on a whistle-stop tour of World Heritage sites and other attractions in North Wales.

Mr Jones “Japanese tourists used to by-pass North Wales but not anymore.

“We have worked hard to promote the region and as a result we have seen a sharp rise in the number of Japanese tourists visiting North Wales.

“JATA have now selected 20 of the most beautiful roads in Europe and we were thrilled they picked North Wales as one of those routes.

“They will now be promoting North Wales as The Road of Castles in Wonderland.

“The route starts in Newtown and comes up through, Chirk, Wrexham and Ruthin, before heading to Conwy and Llandudno and down the Conwy Valley to the Llyn Peninsula and looping to Caernarfon and Anglesey.

“We’re now aiming to target other Asian markets like China, Thailand and the Philippines because there’s so much potential there.

“Manchester Airport has Hainan from China coming in directly seven days a week and Cathy Pacific will be from the New Year hopefully be coming in from Hong Kong seven days a week.

“There is still a lot we need to do and we can’t yet sit on our laurels but there really is a lot to be positive about.

“North Wales has voted as the 4th best place in the world to visit by readers of Lonely Planet brings huge kudos.

“The sector already contributes more than £2.8 billion annually to the regional economy and employs upwards of 47,000 people.

“One of the main reasons for the dramatic rise in our fortunes as a tourism destination is that North Wales is at the epicentre of the growing adventure holidays market and is earning recognition as a world leader thanks to developments like Zip World and Surf Snowdonia.

“There are two other areas that have got ahead of the curve especially on the promotion of food and drink Anglesey and Wrexham. We have witnessed a 70 per cent increase in tourism in Wrexham over the last 10 years which is amazing.

“That’s been helped by a forward thinking local authority and the launch of the innovative Wrexham Card.

“Add to that high profile events such as Olly Murs appearing at the Racecourse Ground and Wrexham is suddenly doing much better in terms of tourism.”

The other keynote speaker was Chris Nott OBE, the Prince of Wales’ Business Ambassador for Wales.

Mr Nott, a commercial lawyer and senior partner of Capital Law LLP, gave an inspiring talk on ethical entrepreneurship and responsible business.

He said: “My primary responsibility is to my 150 employees. In the end I’m responsible for the payment of 150 mortgages, it’s really that simple.

“If staff are happy and understand the ethos behind what you do then you have a far more productive and successful team.

“A successful business will build a sense of community and become a value-led organisation.

“What is really important is that as a business you measure output and not input.”

Gill Kreft, the chair of Wrexham Business Professionals, thanked both speakers, recognising their inspirational commitment to making North Wales a better place to live, work and do business.

She said: “Jim Jones is so passionate about our region and he’s put North Wales on the map, as never before. Chris Nott’s vision is also vitally important and his values are shared at the very heart of our ethos at Wrexham Business Professionals.

“Working responsibly is good for business and has got to be the way forward to generate sustainable wealth, health and wellbeing for North Wales.”

Gwyn strikes gold in top finance qualification

Hadlow Edwards  001

A talented young financial planner has become one of the youngest in the UK to achieve a top qualification known as the gold standard in his profession.

At the age of just 27, Gwyn Edwards of Wrexham-based Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management has passed his Chartered Financial Planner exams.

Gwyn runs the London office of Hadlow Edwards which is a Principal Partner Practice of the FTSE 100 Company St. James’s Place Wealth Management, one of the UK’s largest wealth management organisations which looks after client funds of £83 bn.

It’s a mark of Gwyn’s achievement that according to the latest Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) figures, which oversees the Chartered Financial Planner qualifications, only 17 per cent of the 25,000 financial planners in the UK hold the title. The average national age for achieving the qualification is 47.

He also has the distinction of being part of only the second father and son duo within St. James’s Place to have the prestigious qualification. His father, Medwyn Edwards, who founded Hadlow Edwards with joint owner Warren Hadlow in 2000, already holds it.

Gwyn heads up Hadlow Edwards’ Mayfair office which was opened by the firm last year because of increasing client numbers in the capital and south east region.

He studied for his advanced qualifications alongside his high profile day job and it is now the end of a four-year journey to reach the top.

Gwyn said: “I began working towards the exams for the Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning in 2013. At the same time I was studying for the qualification I was also working as a trainee financial adviser, which at times was quite demanding but I achieved it about a year later.

“In the summer of 2015 I then began studying for the next stage, which is the Financial Planning Advanced Diploma. That took the best part of two years and involved four exams, the last one being in April this year.

“I passed the exam and obtained the qualification and now have the title of Chartered Financial Planner.”

Gwyn added: “Gaining all the advanced qualifications certainly involved a long and intensive period of study.

“In the weeks leading up to the exam for the advanced diploma I was working during the week and then revising every weekend.

“I know that most people in the industry who have the qualification get it in their thirties and forties and at the stage of having families and children, so I can imagine how hard it was for them doing all the necessary studying on top of having a full-time job.

“I was very lucky that my partner Nia Beynon was very understanding and supportive.

“Given my age I think being a Chartered Financial Planner will help give me a bit more authority when it comes to dealing with clients and help them to feel more comfortable with me.

“After all, people could be putting their entire savings in my hands and trust is the most important thing in this business. I think the title, along with the extensive training to achieve this, will help strengthen that as far as I’m concerned.

“It’s also good that both my dad and I now hold the same title and that I got it at an earlier stage in my career than he did!

“I’m relieved that all the studying is over and I’m very proud to be a Chartered Financial Planner as having the qualification gives me a sense of satisfaction.”

Gwyn is a former Llandovery College student and won a scholarship to the prestigious Carmarthenshire independent school due to his prowess on the rugby field.

After a spell of living and working in New Zealand with two friends, Gwyn decided to forge a career in the same industry as his father.

Although his playing career was cut short by injury, he still turns out regularly as a centre for his local team in West Hamsptead, UCS Old Boys RFC, and says he is currently training hard for the new season.

For more information about Hadlow Edwards go to www.hadlowedwards.co.uk

Five star success for top fabric firm Simon Boyd

3006COXEY BOYD08

A local businessman who started out over 40 years ago has created a soft furnishings empire that is now believed to be the UK’s largest independent fabric retailer.

Peter Grimes’s chain of four Simon Boyd shops now includes Premiership footballers, the top five star London hotel, The Corinthia and the world famous Gleneagles Hotel and golf resort among its clients.

With a factory outlet in Wrexham and stores in Chester, Knutsford and Shrewsbury, Simon Boyd Ltd is the last man standing in the fabric manufacturing business in North Wales and the North West following the demise of Laura Ashley and more recently the closure of Montgomery’s in Broughton in 2013.

The company now employs around 70 people across the four sites and Peter’s daughters, Nikole and Cordelia, are both directors. Nikole is based at the Shrewsbury store and Cordelia is in Knutsford.

They source most of their fabrics direct from mills in Italy, Spain, Turkey and Belgium, but they also stock big name brands such as Sanderson, Morris & Co, Romo and Harlequin. As a result, they have a range of more than 50,000 options of curtain and upholstery fabrics.

In addition, Peter has established an extremely successful separate property company, which has an extensive portfolio of properties in Manchester, Cheshire, and North Wales including apartments, shops and factories.

According to Peter, one of the secrets of their success has been the expert guidance of chartered accountants Coxeys who have offices in Wrexham and Saltney.

He said: “It’s absolutely imperative that you have the right financial and tax advice when you’re running a company. Coxeys have helped Simon Boyd to develop and grow – they are providing expert support that’s enabling us to maximise our potential and grasp opportunities when they present themselves.”

He recalled: “I always knew that I wanted to do something in business, there was an entrepreneurial spirit lurking within and I started with a small amount of stock which I sold to market stalls and shops in North Wales.

“Our first shop was in Chester and then we progressed from there to South Manchester, Shrewsbury and we bought the old Laura Ashley premises in Wrexham which is our factory, Head Office, and factory shop.”

“We aim at the middle market – the John Lewis customer is absolutely perfect for us. The products they get are from similar mills or the same mills as us but they go through a converter so we’ve always got the edge on price.

“The scale of the operation now has far exceeded my initial expectations.”

Carla Huxley, the operations director, is a key figure who started in the business 21 years ago.

She said: “We have a huge catchment area. People travel for miles because of the size of our range and the sheer quality of our fabrics, allied to extremely competitive pricing. At the factory shop in Wrexham, people travel from as far as Barmouth and Anglesey while our Shrewsbury store actually covers Wolverhampton and towards Birmingham.

“The Knutsford store brings in customers from the whole of the Manchester area and Cheshire, so between the four sites, we do cover a really large area. We even have one lady who makes regular trips from Ireland.

“We have our own workroom so we can provide bespoke manufacturing but we have just as many customers who come in just to buy the fabric, or to purchase ready-made curtains.”

“We also do a lot of contract work. The Corinthia Hotel in London was a commission via an interior designer as we work in close communication with a number of designers. That was a fantastic job because we did the main dining area.

“Because we are specialists in this type of unique manufacturing the Project Manager travelled from London to our factory to commission us for the work. The windows were very big arched shape so the curtains had to be tailored specifically to those windows, so it was a very complicated job.”

“Through the Knutsford store, we carry out work for premiership footballers but because of client confidentiality I can’t name names unfortunately.”

Chartered accountant Michael Coxey said: “We are delighted that we have been able to play our part in the Simon Boyd success story. They are great ambassadors for business and industry, companies like this are the backbone of our economy. They have quality products and excellent pricing which is why they have such a loyal customer base in all the areas they serve.”

High-flying travel agency lands top industry award

2706ORME TRAVEL03

A high flying travel agency business has landed a top industry honour after a major expansion.

Businesswoman Nia Hughes, who runs Orme Travel in Rhos-on-Sea, received a special recognition award at the 2017 Global Travel Group conference of independent agencies, held in Spain.

After five years of consistent growth from her base in Penrhyn Bay, the former Conwy Council project manager moved into the premises of Grosvenor Travel, which had closed because the owner retired.

According to Nia, she saw an opportunity to expand further and she employed two members of staff who had been made redundant by Grosvenor Travel.

Orme Travel now operates from Penrhyn Avenue in Rhos-on-Sea, with business booming thanks to bookings from existing clients of both agencies, along with new customers.

The way Orme Travel has taken off has also won praise from Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID), which aims to improve the conditions of the main business communities across the Bay of Colwyn  in Colwyn Bay, Rhos-on-Sea, Old Colwyn and Mochdre.

Nia, 44, said: “Things were going well and I developed a really good customer base but my shop in Penrhyn Bay was a little out of the way.

“I saw this as an excellent opportunity to expand my business and I was also able to offer jobs to the two staff who had been made redundant, which was a good thing for us all, as they have over 35 years’ experience in the travel business between them.

“I’m glad to say they are both still working with me – Mandie Brown, who lives in Llysfaen, and Helen Walker, who lives in Rhos.”

Nia, who lives in Llandudno with her husband and has two daughters, added: “Before I went into the travel trade I worked for a number of years in local government and managed European-funded projects for Conwy County Borough Council.

“I’d done quite a bit of foreign travel myself and had always been keen to have my own business. I was able to combine the two things and do something really different when I opened Orme Travel five years ago. I have loved every minute of it.”

One of the staff who kept her job when Nia took over was Mandie Brown who started out working in travel in Denbigh and went on to manage agencies and work in Llandudno and Deganwy before spending 13 years working with the former Grosvenor agency.

She said: “It’s been brilliant to keep my job and in stay in familiar surroundings.

“It’s nice that we still have regular clients we’ve been dealing with for many years coming in to book their holidays and Orme Travel clients along with new ones.”

Orme Travel offers a wide range of travel including coach tours, cruises, escorted tours, beach short and long haul holidays, city breaks and bespoke, tailor-made itineraries.

Nia and the team have just launched a new venture, Orme Travel Tours, which will see groups of people heading for Europe and further afield.

“We are proud to be an independent travel agent, which means we can offer a vast choice of holidays with scores of companies and provide impartial advice.

“However, we are also part of the Global Travel Group, a consortium which has about 400 agents across the UK, which enables us to offer the ATOL – Air Travel Organisers Licence – bond.

“It was as a member of this organisation that we won a special recognition award at the annual Global Travel Group conference at La Manga in Spain for successful expansion and change. I feel very proud of what we’ve achieved in quite a short space of time.

“Since opening in December business has been very good with us retaining Orme Travel Ltd. clients, gaining previous Grosvenor clients and attracting new ones, which is very promising for future growth. I have increased staffing hours since December and am on track to double the turnover this year.

“I think there’s a definite trend towards people who had been booking their holidays and trips online coming back to high street travel agents like ours.

“They value the support and expert knowledge we can offer and also the way we help people to feel more secure, especially with what’s happening in the world at the moment.

“I also think people are becoming more adventurous with their holiday destinations with families, who normally went to Spain, now booking cruises, tours and much more exotic destinations such as China. They need extra support with these kind of trips, which we can provide.

“I think moving to Rhos-on-Sea was the best thing I could have done for my business. I have a great team and we have combined a lot of experience and new ideas. There’s lots of passing trade in Rhos-on-Sea and it is a very happening area where a number of the other shop owners are now my friends.”

Colwyn BID project manager Anna Openshaw said: “It’s great to see an existing business, which was facing closure, being re-born and revived in this way by Nia and her fantastic team.

“Rhos-on-Sea has become an exciting place to be due to the growing number of bespoke businesses that have been moving there over the past few years and Orme Travel Ltd is to be congratulated for adding to the vibrancy of the area.”

To find out more about Colwyn BID please visit www.colwynbid.co.uk and for Orme Travel visit ormetravel.co.uk  or call  01492 540840.