Help our economy to flourish, business owners urge Welsh employers

Organisations are being encouraged to support the Welsh economy with their employee rewards and incentives this Christmas, choosing local gift card options and giving staff access to a range of small businesses in Wales.

There are four local gift card programmes in Wales; Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Swansea, following the launch of the Big Heart of Swansea Gift Card in October 2021.

The We Love Merthyr Gift Card launched in 2018 and is led by The Big Heart of Merthyr Tydfil. Over 30 businesses accept the We Love Merthyr Gift Card.

Mandy Jones is the owner of a family run business Bumbletree in Merthyr Tydfil, and said that organisational support for local gift cards keeps money locked into the area:

“Bumbletree is a retail business selling jewellery like Nomination Italy, Clogau and Qudo, fragrances like Ashleigh and Burwood, candles, homewares, furniture and more. We have a huge range of quality items, offering affordable luxury. Our aim is to provide a delightful and helpful experience.

“It has been hard for small businesses on the high street as people have started to shop more online. The high street should be the hub of any area and the We Love Merthyr Gift Card encourages people into town, which can only strengthen Merthyr. With a strong high street, we have more investment, housing and regeneration, it makes the area more appealing.

“Welsh organisations could give their staff an online voucher and let the money leave the area, or they could keep it here in Merthyr, helping the economy to flourish. The good thing about the We Love Merthyr Gift Card is that there are lots of different businesses you can spend it at. Employees given a We Love Merthyr Gift Card can treat themselves or even somebody else.”

Both national and independent businesses in Swansea city centre accept the new Swansea Gift Card:

Bruno Nunes, Chief Executive of Creative Hospitality Group, that owns and operates Swansea city centre venues, Peppermint and Bambu comments:

“These are challenging times for businesses of all kinds and there is a real sense that we need to pull together and support each other in any way we can if we are going to thrive.

“The Big Heart of Swansea Gift Card is a great tool to help us all to do this. It isn’t just something consumers can use to spend in the city centre, it is something businesses can use when they are carrying out a corporate spend. So, if you are planning your Christmas celebrations with a meal out with your team, if you are giving your staff a thank you gift for working hard throughout the year, if you buy gifts for clients, or if you are buying supplies for your firm, the card is a reminder of the importance of spending locally and supporting your colleagues in your area.”

The Newport Gift Card launched in 2017 and can be spent with over 50 businesses.

Paul Hawkins is the owner of Diverse Vinyl in Newport:

“Diverse Vinyl has been in Newport since 1988, we’re the last remaining record shop in the town and have weathered a few recessions, the decline in vinyl and the resurgence too. We have an online presence but the shop is still important to the way we do business. 20 years ago we looked at going fully online, but in hindsight we realised it would have been a mistake to write off a physical outlet.  The face to face interaction with our clientele helps us to judge the buzz of new releases, and the feedback is more honest and immediate in person, plus it gives a likeminded community of people the opportunity to come together.

“That said, the pandemic has pushed us further online than ever before. Businesses had to move online or batten down the hatches. I’m pleased to report that lots of our shop customers found our website and continued to shop via mail order whilst we were closed. Now we’re open again, the shop is quieter than it used to be as people are cautiously emerging back into the world. We love the support we get from locals and appreciate people coming to buy from us rather than buying from the big multinationals. By supporting the smaller businesses, our customers are not only benefiting their own local economy, but buying their products from enthusiasts who share their passion for the products.

“As a small business owner, shopping local is an idea that is close to my heart. During this time of economic uncertainty, the more money we can keep in the local community, the better. We’ve been big supporters of the Newport Gift Card from the start, as it’s a community led initiative that all the businesses can chip in with. I’ve had people in to spend their Newport Gift Card with me, delighted that they could spend it on some quality vinyl, from the latest releases to the classics. Anyone that’s bothered about Newport needs to make the effort to shop local for the future of the city.”

The FOR Cardiff Gift Card launched in 2017 and can be spent with over 70 businesses in Cardiff. Emily Cotterill, head of projects and engagement at FOR Cardiff BID said:

“One of the reasons we updated our gift card programme in 2020 to include both national and independent businesses was to make the Cardiff Gift Card more appealing for corporate customers. An organisation with 1000 staff can give the Cardiff Gift Card to their employees and know that they will all find a store, restaurant, leisure venue, accommodation or service provider to spend their gift card. We have all the big names like M&S, Primark and John Lewis, alongside the smaller independents.

“For a company wishing to prioritise corporate social responsibility, the Cardiff Gift Card ticks lots of boxes. It’s supporting Cardiff, and keeping money locked in locally, and it is encouraging staff to shop, dine and stay more locally, rather than travelling out of the area. Our nationals are popular places for employees to redeem their gift cards, but independents are too, especially food and beverage, like our delis, coffee shops and restaurants. Employees can use their gift card to get a coffee on the way to work or a nice lunch. I hope to see lots of organisations in Cardiff supporting our businesses this year with their rewards and incentives.”

The 4 Welsh gift card programmes are part of the award winning Town and City Gift Cards scheme from fintech Miconex. Managing director of Miconex Colin Munro said local gift cards are an easy way for employers to reward staff: “The UK trivial benefits scheme enables organisations to give staff a tax-free non cash reward of up to £50. Gift cards make sense for employers, but local gift cards that support local businesses make even more sense.”


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