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Funding package to help West Wales Bacon Supplies



Bringing home the bacon: Kim and Chris Isaac with Finance Wales executive Tony Dowrick

Bringing home the bacon: Kim and Chris Isaac with Finance Wales executive Tony Dowrick

HUSBAND AND WIFE, Chris and Kim Isaac have bought into an established meat packaging and distribution company based in Cross Hands. The Isaacs have bought West Wales Bacon Supplies from its former owner, funding the purchase using their own savings and a six figure loan from Finance Wales. Former owner and local businessman, John Davies set up the company 28 years ago and today its loyal team of 10 supplies around 250 local customers throughout South and West Wales.

Now, having taken over at the company, new Managing Director Chris Isaac is excited about moving the business forward: “Kim and I have always wanted to run our own business and taking on a wellestablished business like West Wales Bacon Supplies is the right option for us. It’s known for its high-quality products and the personal service of its loyal staff and we’re keen to build on what John and his team have achieved.

“With my logistics background, I’m confident we can improve our customer services and generate savings by improving our distribution. We’ll then be able to plough these savings into expanding our premium range. Finance Wales’ funding and local support has meant a smooth transition for the company and its employees and allowed us to fulfil a life-long ambition,” Chris explained. Established in 1986, West Wales Bacon Supplies slices, weighs and vacuum-packs bacon and cooked meats, supplying cafes, hotels, pubs and shops across South and West Wales.

The company’s fleet of delivery vans are a familiar sight on local roads and its customers value the service it provides as well as the range and quality of meat products it supplies. Mr and Mrs Isaac were alerted to the opportunity to buy the company soon after Mr Davies put the business up for sale earlier this year following his decision to retire.

After deciding to take the business on the couple approached Finance Wales who help Welsh businesses secure succession funding. Tony Dowrick, an Investment Executive based at Finance Wales’ local office in Dafen structured the succession investment. Tony said: “Finding new owners for West Wales Bacon Supplies was crucial as it’s an established local business employing 10 staff with a loyal customer base in a close-knit community. Chris and Kim wanted to run their own business, but starting up a business wasn’t the right fit for them.

“Finance Wales’ loan has helped an aspiring couple achieve a long-held ambition while also safeguarding 10 jobs and protecting existing local supplier relationships. The Isaacs have the drive to breathe new life into the business and take it to new heights.” Since taking over the company at the end of Septmeber the couple have already achieved a 10% rise in profits for October and November and are now looking forward to a potential recruitment drive planned for early this year.

West Wales Bacon Supplies is one of Finance Wales’ latest succession investments. It has invested over £29 million to enable ambitious management teams to take over at 94 established Welsh companies and these businesses have created and safeguarded over 1,100 jobs in Wales. Chris Griffiths, New Investments Fund Manager at Finance Wales specialises in succession investments and he believes that acquiring an established business is an attractive option: “Finance Wales is eager to back more management buy-ins and buy-outs of established Welsh SMEs.

They’re important to the future prosperity of the Welsh economy but many Welsh managers are often unaware of the funding options open to them to help them own their own business. We can tailor our funding to suit individual managers’ and management teams’ needs. Finance Wales’ investment in West Wales Bacon Supplies came from the £40 million

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University to host industry summit online



SUPPORTING industry’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic is a key priority for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

The University has a track record for working with industry through knowledge transfer, research innovation, workforce development and by providing a ready pipeline of skilled students and graduates, in partnership with employers.

In addition, UWTSD’s MADE Cymru initiative was established to support manufacturing industries in Wales to adapt to the challenges of Industry 4.0.

The initiative, funded by the EU via the Welsh Government, aims to support the economic recovery of manufacturers in Wales by offering part and fully funded training to businesses to upskill staff, as well as research and development that improves processes and products to reduce waste and costs.

In addition, UWTSD and MADE Cymru have organised an Industry Summit to be held online between June 8-10 to inform, engage and inspire businesses during this critical period of post-Covid recovery.

Expert speakers will be sharing their insights including James Davies from Industry Wales, Carol Hall, Regional Investment Manager, Development Bank of Wales, Chris Probert, Innovation Specialist, Welsh Government and Geraint Jones, Knowledge Transfer Adviser at KTN.

The line-up also includes Welsh manufacturers who will be sharing their own experiences, including Tim Hawkins, Managing Director, Markes International, Julia Chesney-Roberts, Commercial Manager, Riversimple, Angus Grahame, Founder of Splosh and Jacques Bonfrer, Co-Founder and Team Lead, Bot-Hive.

There will be guest talks from circular economy expert Eoin Bailey and lean author Daryl Powell and an opportunity to find out about the range of services offered by the University.

Graham Howe, Executive Head of the MADE Cymru project at UWTSD says: “This Industry Summit aims to explore issues and challenges facing manufacturing in Wales so that we can work together with employers to find solutions. 

“We always start with asking a manufacturer what their biggest problem is today and look at how we can help them with it.

“We aim to unravel potentially confusing challenges like these. Our approach begins by looking at what companies need to increase their productivity and competitiveness.

“We aim to lead the businesses we work with through a journey of continuous improvement – a journey that makes the most of Industry 4.0 technologies and their ever-growing digital capabilities to help solve the specific problems faced by each company.

“All of the feedback we receive from businesses shapes our curriculum – we want to produce employable, digitally literate graduates who can contribute to their workplace from day one”.

Alison Orrells is CEO and Managing Director of Safety Letterbox and has been one of the organisations participating in the MADE Cymru initiative.

She said: “It was important to keep innovating and investing to set us apart and come out stronger. It’s been intense but we had a game plan – now it is all about business future-proofing, being agile, collaborations and being adaptable.”

Covid-19 has affected every part of a business and shifted the focus from production to survival.

UWTSD recently led a round table discussion with Welsh manufacturers about the future of manufacturing in Wales.

That discussion found that their outlook is positive about the future.

Manufacturers accelerated their adoption of new technologies to enhance and optimise production.

With many employees on furlough, managers took the opportunity to rethink and invest in better IT, particularly communications, training and diversified into new product areas. They looked to local colleges and universities to help shift perceptions of jobs in manufacturing and demonstrated the career opportunities and pathways available.

They also loosened their reliance on overseas imports and looked for suppliers in the UK to minimise future risk of disruption.

All sessions of the Industry Summit are free to attend and places can be booked on the UWTSD website:

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Casual and part-time workers: Most vulnerable to job loss



A NEW series of reports that focus on the effects of Coronavirus on employment in Wales was published on Thursday, May 27, by Public Health Wales.

Young people, and those in precarious work have been identified as being especially vulnerable to employment changes caused by the pandemic, with mental wellbeing and struggles to find or keep work cited as major concerns.

Many young people are unaware of the support that is already available and how to access it, suggesting a greater need for organisations to engage with young people on a deeper level, to find solutions to the barriers they face for gaining good, fair employment –critical for people’s good health and wellbeing.


Dr Benjamin Gray, Public Health Researcher at Public Health Wales, said: “18-29-year-olds are the age group with the highest proportion placed on furlough (41%) and 2.5 times more likely to have been placed on furlough than the 40-49 years age group and as such risk an uncertain future. Furlough could potentially mask a longer-term impact of Covid-19 on unemployment, and this is a concern, especially amongst this age group.”

Dr Ciarán Humphreys, Consultant in Public Health with the Wider Determinants of Health Unit at Public Health Wales, said: “Young people have told us they have been hit by a multitude of factors that will potentially have long-lasting effects on their employment prospects.

“It’s not just about being in work, though. It is the nature, quality, and long-term prospects of that work – good, fair work, that’s so important for people’s health. We saw this impact play out in the study.

“Some working young people we heard from struggled with the impacts of work changes outside their control on their mental wellbeing, whereas most of those in stable employment generally felt well, supported by their employer, and confident about the future.

“We know that at UK, Wales and local levels there have been important actions taken to mitigate the impact of these employment changes. However, some of these are expected to come to an end.

“A clear message from our work is that it will take a range of approaches to support young people responding to the employment challenges of the pandemic, to improve health.

“Action can be taken at national, regional and local level. Employers, too, have an important role in helping young people into good quality work, and that includes public sector organisations.

“If we are to safeguard future health we will need to work collaboratively and effectively, involving young people.”

The reports are the first in a series of planned employment analysis by the Public Health Wales Population Health programme exploring the impact of Coronavirus on the Welsh labour market and will help inform policy and decision-makers.

Further phases of the research will look at how challenges could be addressed as the economy reopens and recovers, so that those most at risk of longer-term harm from the crisis can secure decent quality future employment, training, and education.

Key findings across the reports were:

•             Around a quarter of a million workers were employed in shutdown sectors in Wales (18 per cent of all workers) at the outset of the pandemic with young workers (aged 16-24) much more likely to be employed in shutdown sectors (36 per cent compared to 11 per cent of those aged 35-64).

•             Young people faced varied and complex challenges due to the pandemic. In addition to the challenge in gaining, retaining, and partaking in good, fair work, issues raised included the effects of the temporary lockdown, such as disruption of vocational learning and home-schooling, or exacerbation of pre-existing issues such as the nature of employment for young people, Brexit and reported lower uptake of universal credit.

•             Those who work in low-paid, insecure work have less protection and rights due to the ‘flexible’ nature of their jobs. Young people are chief among these due to the specific sectoral trends in employment contract types. These employment changes have also translated into significantly different impacts for distinct groups, with those living in deprived areas of Wales appearing to have fared worst.

•             There is substantial uncertainty about the future, especially when government schemes such as furlough come to an end as these cushioned the economic pain caused by the pandemic.

•             Young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and are likely to feel the effects for some time with concerns over scarring effects on job prospects and the potential for higher tax in the future to pay for the financial support schemes introduced by the Government during the pandemic.

•             While interventions are perceived by decision-makers and influencers to be available, apart from the furlough scheme, young people in this study did not, on the whole, appear familiar with them or accessing the support.

•             It will be critical to ensure young people are involved in the development of future support.

•             Evidence suggests that labour market policies can substantially impact the health of both the employed and unemployed populations in a positive way.

•             A range of policies are linked with improved mental and physical health outcomes, as well as reduced health inequalities; however, some, such as benefit sanctions, have been linked to either no health benefit or even harm.

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Johnston pub closes after ‘hard few months’



THE VINE INN in Johnston closed its doors at short notice on Wednesday night (May 26).

The closure was announced on the day via their Facebook page.

The post read: “It is with very heavy hearts that we have to announce that we are closing tonight. It has been a hard few months and unfortunately we have not made it.

“Thank you to everyone for supported us in the last 4 years and especially during the lockdowns.

“We will be open tonight for one last shift and be closing the doors at 9.30pm!

“Thank you once again Wishing everyone all the best,Katie, Sharon, Jo and Nerys.”

People responded to the announcement by posting messages of support for those running the pub and good wishes for the future, a few of those comments read:

“Well what can I say to you all it’s a sad day but onwards and upwards hope the cunning plan for the next stage in your lives be Happy Healthy and prosperous I will miss Sharon the Elf and the rest of you all but expect we will cross paths on the same side of a bar”

“So sorry to hear this , covid lockdown affected so many and you tried so hard Wishing you all the best Take care all xx”

“Oh no, I am so sorry to see this! Not that the gentle exercise group is back yet, but we had some good Christmas Dinners at the Vine and I know some of the group used to go up there regularly. Wishing you all the best for the future.”

The Vine only re-opened on Tuesday, May 18, after restrictions forced pubs across the country to close to try and halt the spread of Covid-19.

The global pandemic has left many local pubs/restaurants struggling with The Vine Inn and The Station Inn in Pembroke Dock closing within days of each other.

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