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Wrexham company bosses told to channel their “inner pirate”

Wrexham Business professionals Christmas meeting; (Centre) Guest speaker Geraint Hughes; Lafan with Louise Harper; Handelsbanken and Ian Edwards, Allington Hughes Law. Picture Mandy Jones

Company bosses in Wrexham are being urged to work together and be “more pirate” to keep the Welsh pound in Wales.

Entrepreneur Geraint Hughes, who runs a leading artisan food company and a business consultancy, believes that creating local supply chains can kick-start an economic revolution.

Mr Hughes was the keynote guest speaker at the annual Christmas dinner of Wrexham Business Professionals at Wrexham’s Ramada Plaza Hotel.

The organisation is made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and enterprise and expertise that exist in the region.

Mr Hughes established Bwydydd Madryn (Madryn Foods) just over a decade ago and the foodie firm has built up an array of more than 50 products, including the successful Jones Crisps brand.

He also heads up the Lafan business consultancy firm which specialises in digital technology, facilitating, project management and setting up supply chains.

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According to Mr Hughes, he’s passionate about contributing to his local community and believes that North Wales needs a stronger economy to ensure growth.

He said: “I enjoy working with communities and building partnerships. We have so much talent in North Wales and being part of that is a privilege because there are so many opportunities and potential. It’s incredibly exciting.

“We have so many natural resources here and we need to take ownership so that we can make sure the income comes back to North Wales as part of the circular economy so that, whenever possible, we can keep the Welsh pound in Wales.”

To illustrate the various key points of his speech Mr Hughes held up large cards bearing letters which spelled out the word “Wrecsam” – the Welsh language version of Wrexham – linking each one to advice for the 140-strong audience based on his own business experiences.

When he got to the letter “R” – representing the “rrrrrr …” associated with old-time pirate speech – he said: “Wales led the world in piracy, we were pioneers of pirating, in fact.

“Pirates collaborated with each other to conquer the most powerful navies but still had democracy and equality aboard ship. 

“We need to be more pirate in business. We need to break conventions to make our own rules, especially if you’re in areas like mine which are on the fringe of the UK.

“Jones crisps co-operates daily with 11 manufacturers and that works for us.”

Mr Hughes began spelling things out with the letter “W” which he said represented “the way forward” and that finding this was down to ensuring the right people were in the right roles within a company.

Three-quarters of his own role was about having the right people, finding the right direction and controlling cashflow, he revealed.

“So how can owners and leaders show the way forward? I reckon we can do this through our own actions and getting the branding right is very important, then when you find the right direction delivery is much easier,” he explained.

“E”, he said, stood for empowering, explaining: “Nobody knows a business better than the owner and people empowered to come to their own decisions and reach their own conclusions are more likely to act.”

“C” was for Cymraeg (Welsh) and he explained surveys had shown that 86% felt proud of living in communities in Wales where the Welsh language used to thrive but no longer did.

Through his own food business, he said he was trying to reverse this cut by ensuring the Jones o Gymru crisps emphasised its Welsh origins in its branding.  

“This has opened new doors for us and as a brand Jones was set up to celebrate all things Welsh,” he said.

Mr Hughes used the letter “S” to represent systems, stressing: “Every meal we eat is a vote for how we respect the environment, landscape and our communities.”

The “A” in Wrecsam stood for AI – artificial intelligence – which he said must be mobilised to advance technology.

In the food industry, he revealed, AI was now being used to challenge and reduce the mortality rate in calves and make life easier for farmers.

“Having said that we could do with more help from the politicians to help us invest in AI,” he said.

Mr Hughes ended his illustrations with “M” which stood for mistakes – lots of which provided useful experience in business, adding: “We need to be able to fail better and learn from our mistakes.”

More than £1,500 was raised for the evening’s chosen charity, Wrexham-based Dynamic, which offers social, educational, recreational play and leisure opportunities for young disabled people and their close families.

The event was chaired by Ian Edwards, a leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals, who said: “We’re very grateful to Geraint for his fascinating insights and his inspirational rallying call for businesses to work together for the greater good of the local economy, although our piracy will clearly stay well within the bounds of the law.”

It was a view echoed by fellow member Louise Harper who added: “Collaboration and learning from each other is at the very heart of our mission at Wrexham Business Professionals and,  like the Wales football team, it’s a case of ‘Together’ Stronger’.”

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