Archive for April, 2012

This morning the Cardiff Breakfast Club was addressed by not one but two highly engaging speakers – Suzi Clay, Retail Portfolio Director of Land Securities and Steven Madeley, the Centre Director for the St David’s shopping centre. With the St David’s centre now just over two years old, Suzi and Steven discussed the background to the project, its current trading, and the future of retail in Cardiff.

Greeting the large audience with a friendly “Bore da” (although her later jokes about “watching England win the rugby” were more dangerous territory!) Suzi began by introducing Land Securities’ impressive £14 billion portfolio, including 19 retail parks and 24 shopping centres. Land Securities own the St David’s Centre in partnership with both Capital Shopping Centres and Cardiff Council. After 7 years of planning, 3 years construction, and a £675 million investment, the Centre opened its doors in October 2009, and has gone “from strength to strength” ever since.

The decision to invest in Cardiff was taken despite 2009’s recognised economic difficulties. A “thriving” capital, Suzi stressed Land Securities’ “confidence in Cardiff”. When many developers would have stopped building, the St David’s team not only carried on but forecast an impressive 31 million footfall. Their confidence paid off; 75% of the 200 units were let before the opening, the centre takes an average £1 million a day, and footfall stands at 38 million – more than Birmingham’s Bull Ring and Manchester’s Arndale.

The team was keen to develop a centre that would bring Cardiff “into the Big Leagues” of UK retail. Indeed, the city has moved from 10th to 6th in the UK’s retail ranking, and is shortly expected to overtake Liverpool. However, equally important was to develop a centre that would enhance and celebrate Cardiff itself. Alongside improvements to the city’s retail offer, bringing new brands and a new department store, was the desire to create a “sense of place” that was of real benefit to the city. Construction created 2000 jobs, introduced apprenticeships and encouraged local labour, and 4000 jobs have been established within the centre. The centre’s architecture celebrates the city’s history by mirroring Cardiff’s much-loved arcades, and John Lewis and the library have become modern-day Cardiff landmarks.

Lettings currently stand at 93%, although Steven stressed that in the dynamic world of retail this could easily be “95% by lunchtime”. The mix of retailers is vital to the Centre’s current and ongoing success, with Steven preferring to “play the long game” and hold out for the right brand.

Steven acknowledged that a centre of this scale comes with challenges, notably the car park, which was improved to ease congestion caused by concerts at the nearby Motorpoint arena, and managing the ongoing building works as new openings are fitted out. However, Suzi emphasised Cardiff’s status as an “extremely important asset” in the Land Securities portfolio. The St David’s Centre is not only an asset to the city, now a world-class retail destination, but also to those of us who live and work nearby, and has a very bright future.

Well done to the South Wales Echo and the bosses at Media Wales and Working Links for your super initiative
“Just the Job”.

The South Wales Echo has today launched it's "Just the Job" campaign to help jobseekers across South Wales.

After having to report on “far too many job losses” over the recession, this initiative will go a long way to improving the local economy and helping people back into work.

As of today, the Echo will offer every jobseeker in South Wales a free wanted advert, as well as offering every business in South Wales free recruitment adverts to promote their vacancies.

Job hunters can also use the Jobswales website , uploading their CV to “broadcast their talents to a global audience”.

Adverts will be published in the South Wales Echo’s jobs section every Wednesday, starting next week.

It’s a super idea, and will help hundreds of jobseekers to find employment.

Well done Tim and your team.

I was delighted to read Iestyn Davies, head of external affairs of Federation of Small Business in Wales, writing in today’s Western Mail on the much-needed city region approach for Cardiff, which could do so much to boost the Welsh economy. 

This is such an important issue and extremely topical, as Keith Jones, Chairman of Julian Hodge Bank emphasised in his closing speech at last night’s excellent Julian Hodge Institute of Applied Macroeconomics annual lecture. The speaker, Professor Nicholas Crafts of Warwick University, gave a thought-provoking lecture on the lessons learnt from our two previous recessions in the 1930’s and 1980’s.

So much is out of the control of our politicians and leaders, such as the Eurozone crisis or events in the USA. However it does appear to me that if there is a genuine willingness in our community from all interested – politicians of all parties, the media, civil servants, business, the general public – to embrace this obvious way forward for Cardiff and South East Wales, then we can make it happen.

I really do hope that the Welsh Government’s City Region Task and Finish group, chaired by Dr Elizabeth Haywood, examines this issue quickly and concludes its report so that the recommended actions can be adopted without further delay.

As a registered supplier for PR services to supermarket chain Tesco, we have today completed as required a questionnaire on our business for Sedex, the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange.

As those who know me will acknowledge, I appreciate the importance of form filling and totally support the need to ensure that company supply chains contain no examples of corruption, unsafe business practices or environmental negligence, as these can seriously damage a company’s reputation and give a very negative PR image.

However it was a tour de force for me to complete the 20 or more sections in the Sedex questionnaire, with subjects from minimum hourly rates, to waste management covered. Sally was so impressed with my efforts that she even tweeted a picture of me looking very pleased with myself at the completion of my task!

Sally tweeted: "You know that feeling when you finally finish something you've been working on ALL DAY?!"

It is reassuring that however that major organisations such as Tesco really do monitor their supply chains, which can only benefit both the organisation’s profile, and those who purchase products from them.

Our latest PR work experience student is Becky Wilson, a second year studying English Literature at Cardiff University. Here she gives us a little insight into her placement so far!…

The first day of a work placement is a very daunting experience, with the huge stress of not knowing what to wear or where to go, and then the wonder of what is expected of you, it is a case of hoping for the best. Despite the many obstacles the Cardiff Bus route caused on my first day, I arrived on time, and perhaps a little flustered. I was welcomed instantly to the office by Sally. She made me feel at ease straight away and introduced me to both Louise and Rob when they arrived. I felt calm, and I found my place in the office. All of the worries I had concerning my first day suddenly disappeared and I couldn’t wait to get started on my first task.

Cardiff University student Becky Wilson - Petersens' latest PR intern!

My first task was to read some Press Releases for one of Petersens’ new clients, and write my own regional and local press releases for that company. My first thought, as you can probably guess, was along the lines of “AHHHH”. I had never written a press release before, and the only real experience of writing I had previously was from my university work and newspaper articles I had written. I was given a lot of motivation from Louise, and was provided a how-to guide to help me get on my way. I therefore made it my job to present press releases that were worthy of little proof reading and minimal editing, and I have to admit I really enjoyed the responsibility I got with having to write these Press Releases (the content was very interesting too, so that was an added bonus).

I think that through that being my first task, I was able to get a real sense of the world of PR. Not the ‘world’ that some outsiders assume PR is, of celebrity boy bands and modeling firms, but the PR sphere that concentrates on the companies that deserve the utmost commitment and time, not because they sell well, but because their product is worthy of it. This was the first thing that struck me about Petersens, they are known for working with these large companies, yet they still give the smaller companies the same respect, courtesy, loyalty and commitment as they do the larger ones.

Since that day I’ve had the opportunity to try my hand at all sorts of different aspects of PR; ranging from updating media contact sheets and client books, market research whilst contacting clients, newspapers and other relative contacts, and also helping to make a few cups of tea (even PR gurus need refreshments).

The time I have had at Petersens has really opened my eyes to the world of PR, and it has been really reassuring to talk to people who know the ins and outs of the business and who have recently or not so recently felt the same as you; indecisive over your future career. Sally and Louise have both gone out of their way to help me with every thing, and I cannot commend them enough for putting up with my questions. Rob has been extremely welcoming and has treated me like a staff member and not an intruding intern. Since it is his company, I didn’t know whether I would see him much or be able to spend as much time with him, but he is always here, making me feel welcome and asking me if I am alright. The laughter in the office makes me look forward to my day and the office attitude has made my experience, so far, very rewarding.

With a few weeks left of my placement I am looking forward to the new tasks that will arise in the next few weeks, and  I am ridiculously excited about my next experience. Petersens have been good enough to allow me to go along to one of their client visits, and sit in on one of their meetings, so I can see what is really involved in maintaining a good relationship between the PR consultants and the clients. I cannot wait for my little road trip, and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

I started with Petersens not knowing whether PR would be the career field I wished to go into, but this experience has helped me see that PR is an industry that really suits my ways and attentions. Before I applied for the chance to work in Petersens I read reviews of previous interns, and I must agree with all that they say. Petersens is a fantastic company that makes you feel at ease, whilst also allowing you to learn the ins and outs of the PR world.  All that is left now is to work hard and try to get back into this industry, and I will always be grateful of the experience I have had here.