Case Studies – Developing your business

Below are articles highlighting how some businesses in Gwynedd take advantage of the support available to develop and improve their business.

Cyngor Gwynedd business loan facilitates relaunch of historic Harlech hospitality business

The Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 left many businesses in turmoil, with several closing their doors for good. But for one family, in a roundabout way the pandemic opened up an opportunity for them to start a brand new venture.

Jason Way and his family astutely noted that with international travel off the cards, Brits were holidaying at home – and Snowdonia was seeing a huge increase in tourism between lockdowns. So, he took the plunge and bought a pub and hotel in Harlech, just 50 metres from the castle. (Read more).

Electric shuttle bus now available for community use

A social enterprise in the Ogwen Valley has received a grant enabling it to buy an electric shuttle bus for the benefit of local residents.

Partneriaeth Ogwen successfully applied to the European Fund, and the 9-seater bus has now been delivered.

During April to October the bus will be used to carry passengers from Bethesda to Llyn Ogwen and back, making three consecutive trips every two hours.

In addition to funding the purchase of the bus, the grant has enabled the employment of three local drivers who will start work in July. (Read more).


Gwynedd business owner wins prestigious award

A local business owner is enjoying a double whammy of success this year. As well as marking 15 years of trading in November, Angharad Gwyn of Adra is also celebrating her April win of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales award for Digital Business/E-Commerce of the Year.

Adra was established in November 2007 and the business has since then championed Welsh makers and producers, selling their uniquely Welsh products through Angharad’s website, and in her physical shop at Parc Glynllifon. (Read more).


Kodergarten: the innovative Gwynedd company using ground-breaking data systems to help small businesses, improve local authority cost-efficiency and potentially save lives

A Gwynedd business created and staffed by former employees of one of the county’s largest ecommerce companies of the early 21st century is working on several ground-breaking data collection and analysis projects throughout Wales – some of which are potentially life-saving. (Read more).


Gwynedd community work together to save historic pub and create jobs

When Llandwrog’s village pub, Ty’n Llan, closed its doors and was put up for sale, villagers could not have imagined that a few years later they would have the opportunity to buy it and reopen it as a thriving business. (Read more).


The family lockdown anti-boredom project that turned into a business opportunity

A young mum from Pwllheli has fulfilled her dream of launching her own business, thanks to grants, business advice and support, and lots of hard work.

Alaw Williams was a hairdresser before the pandemic struck. Unable to go to her normal place of work thanks to lockdown, she was at home with her partner and two small children and looking for ways to keep the children entertained.

“I'm very lucky that my parents have a farm,” says Alaw. “My mum had an old horsebox in the field and I thought 'right, we're going to do something out of this!' So, we got the kids, went to the fields, and that's where we started. We took everything out, demolished the whole thing, and started from there.”

The result of the family’s handiwork was Jinsan, a mobile gin bar selling craft gins and beers from around Wales at events and celebrations. (Read more).


Former pro footballer scores grants and advice to launch business during lockdown

A former professional footballer who decided to start a football coaching business for children during lockdown was relieved to discover that plenty of support was available to help him get his business established.

Nathan Craig, from Caernarfon, joined Everton at 12 years of age, eventually becoming a first-year scholar in 2008. During the 2008/09 season he became a regular in Everton’s Under-18s team, progressing to the reserves in 2009/10 where he became a regular the following season. In December 2009 he made his competitive first-team debut. He later joined Torquay United, making 47 appearances before leaving in 2014, and then played at Caernarfon Town for several years before leaving to join Flint Town United. (Read more).

Gwynedd craft brewer expands and creates jobs after receiving grants

An award-winning Penygroes brewery has received grants which, alongside contributions from the brewery’s own funds, will help the business expand and create jobs.

Bragdy Lleu, which was established in 2013, received financial support from the Welsh Government's Coastal Communities Fund and the ARFOR Programme.  The grants, combined with the brewery’s own financial contributions, have funded the building of an Interpretation Centre; the purchase an electric van, new brewing equipment and a forklift truck; a contribution towards solar panels; as well as funding two jobs for two years. (Read more).

Gwynedd social enterprise expands team and develops new climate action projects during lockdown

An award-winning social enterprise expanded its team during the Covid pandemic, adding seven new members of staff who will be responsible for arranging climate assemblies in Gwynedd communities.

Datblygiadau Egni Gwledig (DEG), based in Caernarfon, works with communities around north west Wales, helping them to cope with the rising costs of fossil fuels while addressing the climate emergency. The business was founded in 2014 to focus on strengthening the local economy through working with local communities on energy projects. (Read more).

Aberdaron business grows bigger and greener during pandemic

The owners of a Pen Llŷn business have adapted to Covid-19 by completely transforming the way they do business.

Geraint Jones, with his wife Gillian, has run Becws Islyn in Aberdaron since 2012. Despite never having baked or cooked previously, they bought what was at the time a ‘tin shack’ and, after just a few days’ training from the previous owner, completely turned the business around.

Becws Islyn was going from strength to strength. “And then we had a surprise in 2020 - Covid came round and decided to spoil everything!”

But this didn’t stop the baking. A home delivery service was started and luckily, with the couple and their son and daughter and their respective partners living at the same property over lockdown, they tackled the task together and achieved a thriving delivery service. (Read more)


Award-winning Gwynedd designer uses lockdown experience as an opportunity to improve her business

Award-winning designer-maker Ann Catrin Evans used Covid restrictions to her advantage by taking online courses to improve her business skills and commissioning a new online store to sell her unique handmade jewellery. 

Originally from Dyffryn Ogwen, Ann has been a familiar face in Caernarfon since launching her business in 1989. She’s had a workshop at Glynllifon since 1991, and opened her shop, Siop iard, in Palace Street eight years ago.

After graduating from college in Brighton in 1989, Ann immediately set up a workshop with the help of local government grants and worked from a cowshed on the family farm for a couple of years. “It was very lonely because there were no cows,” she says. “I was about to give up at that point, it was so difficult.” 

But then she won the Gold Medal for the craft masterpiece at the National Eisteddfod in Builth Wells in 1993. “When I won that prize it catapulted me forward which was what I needed.”  (Read more).

Pen Llyn estate agent embraces technology and teams up with local photographer to continue trading during pandemic

Like many small business owners, Susan Jones’ initial reaction to Covid restrictions was somewhat panicked. But while shops selling essentials were allowed to stay open, and other types of businesses could be operated from a spare bedroom, Susan’s business was different - because Susan is an independent estate agent.

“I felt like I'd just gone over a cliff,” she says. “When The Law Society put the directive out that you couldn’t exchange contracts, it basically meant that everything ground to a halt.” (Read more).


Return of the craft fair: a welcome Christmas gift for small crafting businesses

As lockdown loomed, the inability to attend sports matches, weddings, baptisms and pubs was big news. But very little was said in the media about craft fairs, which many small business owners relied on for income.

Craftspeople like Deborah Williams, of Gwynedd-based handmade gifts brand Mooshkin, really missed craft fairs and markets – and not just due to the loss of income.  (Read more).

Free service in Porthmadog helps businesses and individuals hone their creative skills

An unusual free service for businesses and individuals is making good use of an empty high street shop and helping people to learn new hands-on creative skills.

Ffiws, part of Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig, launched in September 2019 and occupies a former bookmaker’s shop on Porthmadog High Street. Partly funded by Gwynedd Council’s ARFOR fund, with the remaining funding coming via the LEADER programme, Ffiws provides a dedicated ‘Makerspace’ enabling users to try their hand at exciting creative processes including 3D printing, sublimation printing and heat pressing, laser cutting and engraving, vinyl cutting, and woodworking using a CNC router. (Read more).

Smart Towns for smartphones: how Gwynedd's towns and villages are staying connected with visitors

In this connected age, staying in touch from wherever you are is a high priority for many. So being without a phone signal, preventing people from connecting, can be a problem.

Unfortunately, all mobile signals are not created equal. In some towns, you’ll get a strong signal from one provider, a weak one from another – and from other networks, no signal at all. So how do you stay in touch?

In 2016 business owners in Aberdaron, dogged with poor mobile reception and no high speed broadband, worked with Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig and communications experts on a pilot project to install a free-to-use public wi-fi network in the village. Essentially bouncing a wi-fi signal from one part of the village to another, the system asked users to provide an email address and in return they’d be provided with free wi-fi whenever they were in the village.

Fast-forward to 2021, and there are now ten towns and villages in Gwynedd signed up to the pilot’s successor. Under the ‘Smart Towns’ scheme, which evolved from the trial in Aberdaron, there are now public wi-fi networks set up in Bala, Beddgelert, Bethesda, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Llan Ffestiniog, Penygroes, Porthmadog and Pwllheli – and of course, Aberdaron, where it all started. (Read more).


Historic house saved: becomes boutique hotel

A building that has for nearly two centuries played an important role in Wales’ industrial heritage has been converted into a boutique hotel, creating luxurious accommodation for visitors and jobs for local people.

Plas Weunydd, the historic home of the Greaves family who owned the Llechwedd slate mine at Blaenau Ffestiniog from the mid-19th century, now boasts 24 uniquely appointed rooms which visitors can use as a base while exploring Snowdonia – or just as a luxurious get-away.

The boutique accommodation available at Plas Weunydd is stylish and comfortable, with a bar and lounge for winding down after a hard day’s adventuring. (Read more).

New technology and increased social media activity help popular Snowdonia attraction provide improved booking experience after lockdown eases

A popular Snowdonia attraction has adopted new technology to help manage bookings more efficiently and with a smoother experience for customers, after recognising that ‘book in advance’ is a trend that will be with us for the foreseeable future.

The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways (FFWHR), which operates historic and picturesque steam train journeys between Caernarfon, Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog, faced the now all-too-familiar dilemma of how to welcome back customers safely after lockdown began to ease.

Previously, passengers had been able to hop on and off trains without booking a ticket in advance.

But since lockdown began to ease and attractions have been able to reopen, much more planning is needed – both by customers and by service providers.

FFWHR already had an online ticketing system but felt that customers found it ‘clunky’ to use. After doing some research they found FareHarbor, a service which incorporates bookings with Track and Trace and enables FFWHR to sell products like guidebooks and hampers, as well as enabling them to message customers en masse. (Read more)

Gwynedd business makes history

The company, famous for its Welsh gins and liqueurs launched their inaugural whisky on 17th May – coincidentally, World Whisky Day – and all 2,000 bottles sold within a day.

Aber Falls Single Malt Whisky is the first to be distilled in north Wales in 120 years, and went on sale just as five whisky distilleries in Wales began their bid for Geographical Indication status for Welsh whisky.

On the very same day, they opened their brand new visitor centre which includes a bistro, shop and exhibition space. It also includes a ‘gin lab’ where visitors can design and make their own bespoke gins. They can also enjoy an alfresco dining experience on the terrace with beautiful views of the distillery and the Carneddau Mountains. The new visitor centre, costing some £1.5m to build, provides employment for local people. (Read more).


High street shop experiences massive online sales boost thanks to rates grant, innovation and extremely loyal customers 

Rates grants, social media and extremely loyal customers helped one Gwynedd business not only to survive lockdown, but to come out the other side stronger than ever.

Tom and Myfanwy Gloster have run their physical shop in Porthmadog since 2014. While Tom, who’s been a potter since 2004, creates the distinctive ceramic goods they sell, it’s Myfanwy who handles the marketing – something at which she’s extremely talented.

When the first lockdown hit in March 2020, after the initial panic the couple decided to up their game.

They already had an ecommerce website, which was doing well.  But if the Glosters were to cover the costs of running an empty shop, the website would need to do better. (Read more).


Technology and training help accommodation provider get ready to re-open after lockdown

“Necessity is the mother of invention”, or so the old saying goes. It’s certainly been true for Sarah Heyworth in her business’ post-lockdown recovery.

Sarah is co-owner of Graig Wen, a multi-type accommodation site near Dolgellau, which offers B&B, cottages and yurts to visitors.

During lockdown Sarah was very grateful to receive grant funding from Gwynedd Council and training from Superfast Business Wales – and some glamping training from Sarah Riley – so that when Wales was ready to open to visitors again, everything would be ready to go. She also managed to squeeze in a stint on the National Park’s Ambassador Scheme, volunteering to pick up litter on Cader Idris. (Read more).


Innovative lockdown revenue-generating technology lands top attraction coveted award

One of the Snowdonia Mountains and Coast region’s oldest and most popular heritage attractions has won an industry award after finding an innovative way to generate revenue during lockdown.

Talyllyn Railway’s webcam system was being enjoyed by 565,000 viewers worldwide – and then the Covid-19 pandemic struck, threatening the Railway’s income.

Inspired by the popularity of the webcam system, Talyllyn Railway developed a public online subscription service, Talyllyn Control Centre (TCC), which the public can subscribe to for £5 a year. Developed using internal expertise as part of a master’s project, TCC already has 400 subscribers around the world. (Read more).



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