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South Wales Chamber gears up for growth

SOUTH WALES CHAMBER, which represents more than a thousand businesses from Newtown to Pembroke, is gearing up for the next phase of its growth by aligning its structure to Wales’ new city regions and focusing on building even stronger relationships with its members.

The new approach will see Graham Morgan step aside as Chamber Director as part of changes that involve recruiting for three new posts – a head of operations and two regional relationship managers, one each for the Swansea and Cardiff Capital City regions.

At the same time, Keith Palmer – who heads the parent body behind the Chamber and Centre for Business – and the elected representatives of Chamber members in Cardiff, Swansea and Mid Wales will take the lead on the organisation’s external relationships.

Keith Palmer, group chief executive of Newport and Gwent Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, said: “The Chamber has come a long way over the last five years under Graham’s leadership. He has done a sterling job in getting us to this point by introducing structure, rigour and process to the organisation. We now want to build on this, preserving all that Graham introduced while focusing more on the added value we can bring to our members and on strengthening the team with these new appointments. Our members need dedicated relationship managers who will keep in close contact with them, develop a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and help them find services and support in Wales that will really benefit their business.”

Graham Morgan, 57 from Cardiff, who joined the Chamber in 2009 after holding the position of senior director for NatWest in Wales, has helped knit together the different organisations that merged to form the South Wales Chamber.

During this period, he has spearheaded two flagship initiatives: The development of the South Wales Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Survey, which now encompasses the whole of Wales and is seen as a barometer of the Welsh economy, and the launch of the South Wales Chamber’s annual manifesto, the Campaign for Welsh Business.

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Mr Morgan’s other achievements include building the Chamber’s influence in policy making by contributing to the development of Welsh Government strategy in key areas such as economic renewal and the development of Cardiff Airport. He has also driven forward the South Wales Chamber’s international work, including winning a Welsh Government contract to deliver International Trade Opportunities and establishing a close relationship with the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC).

Paying tribute to Morgan’s contribution to the Chamber, Keith Palmer said: “In the five years that Graham has been with us, he has overseen the merger of three separate Chambers across the region, built numerous invaluable strategic relationships and raised the profile, and credibility of South Wales Chamber of Commerce. We now need to take this baton, build on Graham’s work and take the Chamber to the next stage of its development. During my first year as CEO, he has especially helped me by passing on his many years of corporate knowledge and expertise about the organisation. I’m also grateful for the broader work he has done regarding developing the structure of the Senior Management Team and helping us to navigate the intricacies of the world of commercial banking, which we’ve needed to do as an organisation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Graham, on behalf of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, for all of his hard work, and to wish him the very best for the future. ”

Graham Morgan said: “I’ve really enjoyed my past five years at the South Wales Chamber and am proud to have helped make it one of the top 20 Chambers in the UK. In the past five years alone, membership numbers have grown 108% to the 1,096 that we enjoy today, and we are on plan to get to the top five chambers in the UK by 2018. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of professional and business circles to help with the crusade of developing the chamber, and I’m now looking forward to taking a well-earned break before deciding on what the next business challenge is. I will also use my time to continue to raise money for Meningitis Now, a cause very close to my heart. As a family, we’ve already raised more than £50,000 since 2012, and my wife and I have already signed up to trek through the Andes to Patagonia early next year, so I doubt I will be resting for very long!”

The South Wales Chamber of Commerce has grown from its original roots as the Newport and Gwent Chamber of Commerce to become the voice of SMEs across the southern half of Wales, employing 15 people.

Stuart Taylor, chair of the Swansea Bay Territory Council, said: “This is an exciting time for the South Wales Chamber as it enters a new era. The Chamber’s approach of aligning itself with the city regions’ key business priorities, through working collaboratively with key public and private sector partners and contributing to economic policy that underpin these, makes sound strategic sense, with crucially members seeing tangible benefit from the changes. I would like to add my personal thanks to Graham Morgan who has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the organisation in Wales.”

The parent body of The South Wales Chamber and the Centre for Business is the Newport and Gwent Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry. The company has 95 members of staff with a turnover of £5m with 11 offices located in Swansea, Neath, Cardiff, Newport (2), Merthyr Tydfil, Ebbw Vale, Caerphilly, New Inn, Abergavenny and Newtown.

The three new positions will be advertised towards the end of March. For further information please visit southwaleschamber.co.uk .