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Crisis masterclasses for Welsh food & drink producers

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THE COVID-19 pandemic has particularly hit the food and drink sector. But Welsh producers will get expert advice on coping with the current situation at two special marketing masterclass webinars later this month.

The ‘TUCK IN – Marketing in a Crisis’ webinars will be held on June 9 and June 16.

Organised by the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board and the Fine Food Cluster, the ‘TUCK IN’ masterclasses bring together a wealth of expertise and experience from across the marketing spectrum.

Previous masterclasses have been very well received by producers, and there has been a tremendous response to the forthcoming webinars, which will be conducted via Zoom.

The Fine Food Cluster is a business-led development programme supported by the Welsh Government and facilitated by Cywain.

Fine Food Cluster Lead, Sioned Best, said “Food and drink brands need to be incredibly reactive and on top of how the market is changing in order to pivot their strategy, survive this period and thrive the other side. TUCK IN is all about brands sharing their experiences of how they have done and continue to do just this.”

Speakers will share their marketing expertise, along with experiences of how COVID-19 has impacted on businesses and brands.

Master of Ceremonies will be Jim Cregan, founder of one of the UK’s most loved coffee brands – Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. What began 10 years ago as a café backroom experiment has grown into a brand that is stocked by multiple retailers and wholesalers nationwide.

He said, “The show must go on is the order of the day for ‘TUCK IN’ this year.

COVID won’t stop us from producing and delivering an awesome day of stories and insight from some great companies.

“It’s my third event, and I’m really looking forward to being this year’s MC, it’ll be interesting to work it digital style, but we love a challenge! Let’s do this.”

Also among the keynote speakers are Cathy Capelin of Kantar Worldpanel, Scott James founder and director of Coaltown Coffee, and Pip Murry founder of Pip & Nut. 

Joining them are Sophie Higgins, head of marketing for HIPPEAS Snacks, Abergavenny Fine Foods commercial director, Bryson Craske, and Jubel co-founder Jesse Wilson.

Alison Lea-Wilson director of the Anglesey Sea Salt Company and chair of the Fine Food Cluster said, “TUCK IN 2019 was motivating and enjoyable, and brought companies of all sizes together in a day of sharing information, tips, and ideas.

“I know how much work the team at Menter a Busnes has put into organising it for 2020, and I’m so pleased these two days will be going ahead despite COVID-19.

“The food and drink sector is crucial to the Welsh economy, and all parties who have made TUCK IN possible should be commended for their continued support.

“With technology’s help, we will be able to share inspirational speakers’ stories to help us get through – and even thrive – in these extraordinary times.

“I hope the producers who join the TUCK IN days will be heartened by the encouragement and support available to help our great businesses meet the challenges of this turbulent world.”

Andy Richardson, chair of the Food and Drink Industry Board for Wales said, “We have to recognise the situation we are in, that the COVID-19 crisis is a significant disruption for many businesses. The effect has been varied, depending on end customers. Still, there is a common thread – that the indications show that consumer buying behaviour and what they value may have changed potentially forever.”

“Perception is reality, and we need to constantly think about how we present our products and food and drink businesses to demonstrate we are in step with these changes. We have to remain connected to existing customers, while also looking at the opportunities of gaining new business where COVID -19 has been the catalyst for change.”

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said, “I am very pleased that a valuable resource such as TUCK IN is available to bring Welsh food and drink businesses together at this challenging time.

“The array of targeted advice from experts at the heart of the food and drink industry will, I am sure, help producers to weather the current situation and to focus positively on the future.”

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Llanelli bus depot to close after 100 years

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THE LLANELLI HERALD understands that the Llanelli Bus Depot at Inkermans Street will be closing its gates for good. 

The Bus Depot has served the local community for approximately 100 years, Drivers will now be sent to work from depots in Carmarthen, Swansea and Tycroes. 

All services will remain in the the town, this newspaper can confirm, and our reporter was told that there will not be any redundancies. 

One bus driver told us that he and he co-workers were “not completely happy”, but the unnamed source added “At least we still have jobs to go to.” 

Further updates are expected on this developing story.

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Two week national ‘Firebreak Lockdown’ announced for Wales from 6pm on Friday

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MARK DRAKEFORD, The First Minister of Wales has announced a two week ‘fire break’ lockdown from Friday October 23 at 18:00 HRS, to last until Monday November 9 at 00:01 HRS

Mr Drakeford said: “This firebreak is the shortest we can make it. It must be sharp and deep in order to have the impact we need it to have on the virus.”

All non essential businesses, including tourism businesses will be told to close.

Businesses have been told that they will be given £1000 each automatically to help with the economic impact of the shutdown.

Mr Drakeford added that children will be the priority and that childcare facilities will open as normal. Primary schools will open after half term.

Secondary schools will be closed for a week after half term to help control the virus.

Universities will offer a mixture of face-to-face learning and learning via video link. Students must stay at their university accommodation during the lockdown.

Responding to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a Wales-wide lockdown, Paul Davies MS, the Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament, has called the lockdown “not-proportionate” and is calling on the Welsh Government to be “open and transparent” on the evidence to support a lockdown and if the First Minister is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns every month.

Paul Davies MS said: “Sadly, the First Minster has failed to get public support for this second Wales-wide lockdown, failing to be open and transparent about the evidence to justify this lockdown and what his actions will entail for the future.

“The Welsh Government also has to be honest that this road they are taking us down is committing Wales to rolling Wales-wide lockdowns. This is not a two-week break to solve the pandemic, it is likely that we will see regular lockdowns across the rest of the year. The Welsh Government must be clear what actions they are taking during the lockdown to prevent further Wales-wide lockdowns which will have a significant impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“However, the main concern is that this national lockdown is not proportionate. The impact on businesses in areas such as Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, who have the lowest rate of Covid-19 cases in Wales, will be severe at a time when they are desperately struggling to recover from the pandemic so far this year.

“The First Minister needs to urgently come to the Welsh Parliament and answer these questions, to face effective scrutiny by elected representatives and not run his government by media.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP, Stephen Crabb told The Herald: “The evidence to support an all-Wales lockdown is weak and I am sceptical that this so-called ‘fire-break’ will tackle the situation in those parts of Wales where infection rates have been out of control. The key issue for Welsh Government to address is what will be done differently after the firebreak ends in those parts of Wales where infection rates have spiralled out of control. Otherwise the whole of Wales risks being dragged back into a series of rolling lockdowns.

“As we saw earlier in the year, lockdowns come with huge costs in terms of harm to the economy and to people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. With the Welsh Government asking UK Government to fund this lockdown, I hope that as many businesses as possible get support they need quickly. Pembrokeshire’s hospitality businesses will be hit particularly hard by these latest restrictions and I will be fighting hard again to see that they are protected as the lockdown kicks in.”

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Drakeford to make decision on ‘fire-break’ lockdown in Wales by Monday

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WALES is facing a national lockdown lasting at least two weeks in plans described as a “fire-break” by the first minister.

He said a decision was likely to be made on Monday, while talks continue with health officials, scientific advisors and councils over the weekend.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Responding to the speculation First Minister, Mark Drakeford, is set to announce a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in Wales, Welsh Conservative health spokesperson, Andrew RT Davies MS said: “I implore the First Minister to think again before heading down this path.

“The decision to lockdown Wales once again will have devastating consequences – from an economic and public health perspective – and should be the last resort.

“Only yesterday, the former director of communicable diseases at Public Health Wales, Dr Roland Salmon, said a circuit-breaker is likely to fail and the Welsh Labour Government should listen carefully to his warning.

“Earlier this week, Welsh Conservatives called for the urgent resumption of shielding in Wales with a substantial package of support to ensure the financial, physical and mental well-being of those most at risk is protected.

“This should be the immediate action taken by ministers along with prioritising PPE and testing in the problem areas in Wales such as hospitals, care home, universities and meat factories.

“It’s not too late for the Labour Government to reconsider and choose a different approach in Wales.”

Mr Drakeford warned that 2,500 people were now being infected with coronavirus every day in Wales, with critical care units in hospitals full.

“A successful fire-break would re-set the virus at a lower level,” he added.

Together with a new national set of rules for the whole of Wales after the fire-break period we would have slowed the virus down enough to get us through to Christmas.”
Plaid Cymru has been calling on Mr Drakeford to introduce the circuit-breaker without delay, while Labour at Westminster says a similar approach should be adopted in England.

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