The Cardiff city-region is the engine room of the Welsh economy. With a population of 1.6 million, it has a first class workforce and a new wave of confident entrepreneurs.
The Cardiff city region extends from Bridgend in the west to Monmouthshire in the east.
It reaches the Heads of the South Wales Valleys in the north, and its boundary in the south is the sea. Cardiff grew as a port City on the Bristol Channel and was the route through which Wales was able to export coal and iron all over the world.
Today many businesses in the city-region know no boundaries. Our businesses are still exporting but these days it‘s skills, ideas, technology and services they sell around the globe. Here we look at some great companies that call south Wales home, but the world their market.
1. Flying High
GE Aviation Wales – The term world class is often overused, but in the case of GE Aviation Wales it truly applies.
The Nantgarw-based facility, whose parent company is US conglomerate GE, is one of the biggest private sector firms in Wales, both in terms of turnover and employees.
Its 1.2 million square metre facility overhauls aircraft engines for more than 80 airlines globally, including British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair.
2. Legal Eagles
NewLaw – Set up in 2004 by former Eversheds lawyer Helen Molyneux, NewLaw is already one of the largest personal injury law firms in the UK, employing more than 300 people.
Headquartered in Cardiff, and with offices in Bristol, Basingstoke and Glasgow, it is forecasting doubling in size over the next two years on the strength of contracts it has won based on its strategy. It currently handles around 20,000 personal injury claims a year.
Its ambitious expansion plans are a result of the firm’s strategy to offer out-sourced consumer legal services on behalf of high street companies, taking advantage of the changes taking place in the legal services market.
3. Feed The World
Biocatalysts – As a world leading enzyme producer Biocatalysts’ technology is used to improve the quality, flavour and shelf life of processed foods.
The fast-expanding business is now part of the supply chain to seven of the top 10 global food companies. Based in Nantgarw near Cardiff, it derives around 80% of its revenues outside of the UK – with clients from South America to the Far East.
To support growth in the lucrative US marketplace it has set up subsidiary Biocatalysts Inc. The future is looking bright indeed for the innovative business.
4. A Creative Script
Boom Pictures – One of the UK’s fastestexpanding and dynamic independent television production companies, Boom Pictures, is located in the capital.
Having cut its creative and commercial teeth providing content for Welsh language channel S4C, it now provides content for broadcasters and leading brands globally.
Under its strong management team of Huw Eurig Davies and former controller of BBC 1 Lorraine Heggessey, Boom Pictures last year acquired Plymouth-based rival Twofour Group in a deal catapulting it into the UK’s top 10 of indies.
The future looks bright indeed for Boom and its creative hub and headquarters in Cardiff.
5. Smart Operator
Monitise – A growing number of us are using smartphones to pay bills, shift money between accounts and take advantage of vouchers and customer offers. This is the market that Monitisehas made its own and its technology is allowing banks like HSBC and RBS to provide mobile banking services to its tech savvy customers.
The Alternative Investment Market-listed company has a key UK operation at Nantgarw, near Cardiff, where its 80-strong team services customers across the world.
6. In The Fast Lane
Moto Novo – Cardiff-based MotoNovo Finance is continuing to drive impressive market share.
The business is focused on becoming one of the top three independent motor finance providers in the UK. The business currently works with 1,500 car dealers across the UK. It has a 10% share of the independent motor finance market, having been at 3% five years ago. With a excellent workforce and management, it is well placed to continue to achieve accelerated growth.
7. Spectacular Growth
Admiral Group – Well everyone likes to back a winner occasionally. It was back in 1993 that the business was established in Cardiff selling car insurance over the phone.
Fast forward 20 years and Admiral now employs nearly 7,000 globally with a turnover of more than £1bn. Actively recruiting it has a workforce of more 2,500 in Cardiff and 5,000 in South Wales – where it also has operations in Newport and Swansea.
It is Wales’ only FTSE 100 business with an international dimension with growing car insurance businesses in Italy, France, Spain and the US. It also operates its price comparison business Confused.com from Cardiff.
8. Boxing Clever
Box UK – Next time you fill out a mortgage application form online the software you might be using could have been developed by Cardiff-based Box UK. Established in 1998 by a team of Cardiff University graduates its clients include BBC, LAN Airlines, Investec Asset Management, the National Gallery, EDF Energy and Severn Trent. Box UK also has an office in London.
It has consistently seen year-on-year financial growth and developed a corporate social responsibility programme that sees it engaged in both nurturing local talent and helping shape the future of ICT education in Wales.
9. Ringing Success
IQE – If you have never heard of IQE there is a very good chance that you have a little bit of its work in your pocket.
The Cardiff headquartered London Stock Exchange technology company produces compound semiconductor wafers, which are used to make the wireless chips found in smartphones.
Following a number of recent acquisitions the company has around 60% of the market, supplying products that end up in smartphones from all the major manufacturers globally– underlined by the fact that around two-thirds of its turnover is derived overseas.
Its technology is also being used to significantly increase electricity produced by solar panels.
10. One For The Future
Cell Therapy Limited – Cardiff-based biotech company Cell Therapy Limited (CLT) is developing stem-cell therapies at its laboratories to combat life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. It was founded in Cardiff in 2009 by Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Martin Evans and executive director Ajan Reginald.
The stem-cell market is forecast to triple from £13bn to £40bn by 2015 and CTL hopes its work will enable Wales to tap into this fast growing hi-tech market and create hundreds of jobs.
While pre-revenue, the business is well capitalised as it looks to achieve commercialisation over the next few years.