Archive for the ‘Business/Cardiff News’ Category

How many times have visitors to the Capital been totally underwhelmed by the site which greets them as they depart the Central Rail Station – a landscape of bus stops, taxis and a row of tired looking shops.

BBC Wales HQTo hear the news that the BBC Wales HQ will move to replace the current bus station must be magic for those promoting the Capital for inward investment, such as the Cardiff Business Council, as well as our visitors from other parts of the UK and abroad.

I understand that a modern, well designed, attractive, high-tech building is planned. As Sion Barry comments in today’s Western Mail , all those involved in the process should be congratulated, including Rhodri Talfan Davies, Councillor Russell Goodway and of course the developer Rightacres. With the plans in process for improved transport links throughout the city, this is a truly excellent piece of news and will make all citizens of the Capital proud of their city centre.


beach picDelighted to read in yesterday’s Western Mail of Wales outperforming other home nations on overseas tourism following the recent advertising campaign; “Great Britain – you’re invited.”

A reported 34% increase in visitors from targeted cities such as Paris, New York and Sydney is wonderful news for tourism, which is such a vital part of our economy and an area where fortunes have been mixed over recent years.

Wales is a fabulous country with everything for the overseas visitor. While other sectors such as manufacturing are also vital for our continued growth, tourism and associated sectors such as agriculture (which helps to provide and protect out beautiful landscape) can really trigger major growth to our economy and must be helped and encouraged in order to maintain the impressive growth shown in the recent figures.

Well done Visit Wales!

Jack Petersen competing

Jack Petersen competing

I certainly was not aware of the City’s award as the European Capital of Sport (ECOS) until recently when asked to provide some information and material for an ECOS ‘Local Sporting Hero’ presentation as a tribute to one of our capital’s greatest sportsmen born in the city – my father the famous boxer and proud Cardiffian, Jack Petersen.

Sadly I was unable to attend the event at the Royal British Legion in Whitchurch last week. However, three members of my family did attend at short notice which increased the audience to 15 people. I understand it was a well prepared presentation on my father’s remarkable career and his many links to Cardiff.

It is difficult to regard the evening as a tribute to my father when there was very limited publicity to the event. Notwithstanding my personal interest in the evening I have to wonder what the whole purpose of ECOS is.

It seems to me that here we are nearly half way through 2014 and very little publicity has been given about this significant European Award apparently to the City’s “local administration and sports departments.”  As this annual award was made to Cardiff for 2014, we should be exploiting every opportunity to capitalise on it, not just to the citizens of Cardiff with initiatives such as the excellent local hero’s programme referred to earlier, but also throughout the UK and Europe to further raise our profile as a Capital City.

We recently saw a successful launch of the Cardiff Business Council and the unveiling of a model costing £160,000 to illustrate our City’s  exciting development now and in the future. Should there not be closer strategic ties between all those different agencies and organisations promoting our Capital City, be it  sport, business, health, tourism, investment etc to ensure that Cardiff as a Capital City exploits its Capital status and capitalises on a prestigious international award such as ECOS when given?

I am sure that my father, who was passionate about the City and his upbringing in it and who during his life served as a City Councillor, as well as Vice chairman of the Sports Council for Wales and Chairman of the National Sports Centre, would want Cardiff as European Capital of Sport 2014 to be seen as a model example of how a modern, young Capital City creates “policies and infrastructure to enhance the health and well being of its citizens” now and in the future.

Let’s not allow this significant award to just become another missed opportunity.

Jon Horne, Chief Executive, Cardiff Airport

Jon Horne, Chief Executive, Cardiff Airport

Pleased to read about the increase in usage at our local airport. Well done to Jon Horne and his team!

It proves that once carriers are persuaded to come to Cardiff and offer flights which the public want, passenger numbers will increase. Let us hope that with further support from the Welsh Government, long haul flights could become a reality – a must if we are to be taken seriously as an international destination.

We should applaud the vision and action of Ken Poole, Head of Economic Development at Cardiff Council and the Cardiff Business Council of selling Cardiff to key international investors at the MIPIM Property Conference in Cannes this week.LivingCardiff

Unless we display to the world what makes Cardiff and its region so special, we have limited chance of growing our fragile economy. Many other cities are represented at Cannes and contacts made will be crucial in the continuing draw to attract new inward investment to the area.

I look forward to hearing about this week’s conference in detail in due course, which I am very confident will have been a success. Well done Ken and your team!

Mathew Milsom, Managing Director, Wales Millennium Centre

Mathew Milsom, Managing Director, Wales Millennium Centre

For this month’s Breakfast Club we were joined by Mathew Milsom, Managing Director of the Wales Millennium Centre, Wales’ No 1 visitor attraction.

Described by Mathew as a ‘gleaming beacon of inspiration, sitting proudly at the mouth of the bay’, Wales Millenium Centre contributes over £50 million per year to the Welsh economy and employs over 1000 people on site.

The Centre forms part of a ‘creative cluster’ in Cardiff, alongside the BBC, soon to arrive Pinewood Studios and others, showcasing the best of the Welsh Arts.  Mathew feels the iconic facade, for which the centre has become known, defines the organisation; a furnace of creativity, which extends horizons and increases confidence through participation.

Mathew began by explaining that an important aspect of the Centre’s work is the community projects that it operates. The Centre aims to provide children and youngsters in Wales with new opportunities that weren’t available in the past, opportunities to perform, gain life changing experiences and leave a legacy.

The Centre has provided creative opportunities for 200,000 children in total since opening in 2004, alongside staging 3500 shows and putting on 4000 free performances.

Mathew explained that two things have been key to the Centre’s success during this time, firstly, financial sustainability. 57% of the Centre’s income comes from ticket sales, and only 20% from subsidy, a figure lower than other similar arts organisations in the UK. This is helped by the 81% attendance that the Centre achieves across all genres of show, compared to London’s 68%.

Wales Millennium Centre

Wales Millennium Centre

87% of the Centre’s audience currently comes from South Wales, and 73% from the South East of Wales. Less than 1% currently comes from abroad, but Mathew recognises that to increase this figure would be an expensive challenge. To do so, the Centre needs to offer unique performances, and it’s hoping to nurture the creativity behind these through its youth programmes.

Secondly, the success of the centre is down to great people. Mathew feels fortunate that the WMC’s workforce all share a passion for the creative industry and for Wales, as well as understanding and buying in to the values of the Centre.

As 2014 is the Centre’s 10th Anniversary, Mathew ended his presentation by looking towards the future. He summarised his plans in 3 words: Improve, Inspire and Perform. The Centre will put on an enhanced programme of events for the anniversary year, including mass participation projects that will continue to help raise the profile of Cardiff and Wales, and Mathew was keen to involve everyone as he encouraged us all to ‘Come and support us, get involved and expand your horizons.’

The next Breakfast Club will be held on Thursday March 20th, with guest speaker Hugh Morris, Chief Executive of Glamorgan Cricket. For more information or to reserve a place, please contact Eira on or 02902 549597.

planesAs I sipped my free coffee from Waitrose this morning, I saw on page 3 of today’s Western Mail the news that Network Rail have unveiled plans for the preferred route for a new rail line to the ‘UK’s only Hub Airport.’ No longer will travellers have to go via Paddington to get to Heathrow. Journey time will be reduced from 2 hr 40mins to 1hr 55mins by 2021.

The importance of this to the future of South Wales in particular is truly immense. Forget short term growth and hopeful marketing, this is of real significance to the future growth of our economy. Our wonderfully successful indigenous companies such as Admiral have shown that Wales has many of the important elements to make a successful business: a passionate, engaged work force, lower overheads and great management. With better transport links, South Wales has a great, great future ahead of it.

What a way to start the weekend. Let’s hope our rugby team can make it the perfect weekend!

Breakfast ClubIt was our first Breakfast Club of the year, and Roger Lewis, Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Union and Chair of the South East Wales City Region was the guest speaker at this morning’s fully-booked meeting. Roger shared with the Club his hope that the City Region would ‘ignite ambition’, and explained his commitment to ‘creating a profound, fundamental and positive difference’ for the residents of the region.

Roger was appointed Chair of the South East Wales City Region in November 2013. The inaugural meeting took place in December, with a board drawn from the leaders of the 10 local authorities, the private sector, the unions and the leaders of Higher Education in Wales.

Roger explained that the board has looked at other UK and European cities for inspiration, and referenced the board’s visit to Stuttgart, Germany. He acknowledged that although they are a ‘board in a hurry’, they recognise that their plans outline a 20 to 25 year period for change. Consequently, acquiring funding has been made a key priority.

Roger Lewis, Chief Executive, WRU

Roger Lewis, Chief Executive, WRU

Roger understands that ‘cities are not self sufficient entities’ but are ‘dependent on regional hinterland’. Therefore, strategic planning and a coordinated and integrated approach between Cardiff, Newport, the Valleys and all surrounding towns is vital for successful progress.

Roger shared with the Club his belief that ‘action is key’ for the City Region to implement positive change and create a ‘better, more vibrant, and dynamic South East Wales’. He explained that the board are prioritising truly transformational ventures for businesses and people, and highlighted the South Wales Metro system as one such important project. Transport was identified as an area which will be particularly targeted for improvement.

He concluded with the promise that the City Region would always take an open and honest approach, and assured the Club that he has great faith in the changes that the South East Wales City Region can achieve.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on 27th February with guest speaker Mathew Milsom, Managing Director of Wales Millennium Centre. For further information and booking details, please contact or phone 02920 549597.


At last we can applaud the Welsh Government for taking a real step forward to attract inward investment to Wales. As reported in today’s Western Mail, Economy Minister Edwina Hart will today officially launch a campaign involving advertising posters in London and South East England promoting Wales as a place to ‘grow and expand.’ 

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science & Transport

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science & Transport

As one of my bosses used to demonstrate to me the importance of selling, and not to expect business to just walk in the door, by referring to an old Chinese proverb which states: ‘old man stand on side of mountain for many years with open mouth for roast duck to fly in,’ unless Wales is taken to the world, we have no chance of attracting new companies to come to Wales. Let’s hope that the Welsh Government, together with the efforts of the newly formed Cardiff Business Council, and the SE Wales City Region will conduct a fully focused, integrated campaign and achieve the results which are so necessary for the Welsh economy to really begin to grow.

Breakfast ClubThis month we were joined by Derek Jones who became Permanent Secretary for the Welsh Government in October 2012. At this morning’s Cardiff Breakfast Club he reflected on his role, the Welsh Government, and the ‘fantastically busy year’ since his appointment.

Derek began by describing to the club his career development, and experience of working both in and outside the civil service. Derek was born and educated in Cardiff, but moved away to work at the Treasury and Department of Trade and Industry, returning home to Wales to join the Welsh Office as Head of Industrial Policy. Following the creation of the National Assembly in 1999, as Senior Director, he was a central figure in the operation of devolved government in Wales. He then became Director of Business and Strategic Partnerships and an Honorary Professor at Cardiff University, until his appointment as Permanent Secretary, an opportunity he explained he ‘couldn’t resist.’

Although Derek no longer works at Cardiff University, he remains to have a ‘passion to develop Wales as a place where Higher Education and business intertwine’. He continues to believe in the importance of improving employability, and highlighted the need to secure investment in jobs as one of his fundamental priorities.

Derek Jones, Permanent Secretary

Derek Jones, Permanent Secretary

Derek shared his ideas on his inheritance of the Permanent Secretary role, discussing how historically it has tended to be an anonymous role. However, he explained that he believes this should not be the case, and so he takes every opportunity to interact with the business community. In the past there has been a tendency by his predecessors to be overly precautionary, ‘with risk management procedures not always properly aligned with the potential risks.’ He instead strongly believes in the need for ‘appropriate degrees of risk taking’.

Derek also highlighted some of the challenges which have faced Wales in the last year, citing flooding problems, and the measles outbreak in Swansea, praising that ‘we coped well with the events thrown at us.’

He finally concluded with a discussion on Wales’s position in the recently announced school league tables, and accepted that the Welsh Government has lots of work ahead of them to improve these results, although while they tell some of the story, ‘they don’t tell the whole story’. Focus shouldn’t be taken away from a culture of educational enjoyment and creativity, which will help nurture the business entrepreneurs of the future.

The next Breakfast Club will be held on January 29th 2014 with guest speaker Roger Lewis, Chief Executive of the WRU. For further information and booking details, please contact or phone 02920 549597.