Revamped Llantwit Chamber of Trade gets down to business

By Andy Johnstone in Business

Three enterprising Llantwit businesswomen are the driving force behind a rebooted chamber of trade (CoT) for the town.

The three – Jacquie Jenkins (secretary) of the Hair Studio, Nicky Foster (treasurer) of Health Conscious and Clare Ingram (chair) of No Mean Feet – have restarted the CoT after it had lain dormant since around 2013.

Speaking to The GEM, Nicky said: “The idea had been around for a while. A number of local traders felt that we should be represented as a body to the town council, and that our voices and interests are stronger together.

“We had our first, informal meeting in June last year, and followed it up with a social gathering in August and the inaugural meeting in December.”

Attendance and feedback were both good, according to Nicky and Clare, who said that so far, some 22 traders and town-centre businesses had joined up.

Nicky said that the revamped Llantwit Major CoT had three long-term goals, which are to: develop strong networks built on friendship and mutual co-operation; to make Llantwit Major more attractive to shoppers and businesses; and to help create stronger businesses.

“Llantwit is a great place to both shop and do businesses,” said Clare. “It has a very high proportion of independent retailers, perhaps more than some of it neighbouring town and we must build on that. It is one of Llantwit’s major strengths.”

Nicky said: “CoT members are almost all sole traders and small businesses. The support we can offer each other is vital for success.”

Nicky gave an example. “I have people coming in and asking for incense sticks. I could order and sell them, but instead, I suggest they visit one of the nearby shops.”

Building bridges, and building on small successes, are key agreed Clare and Nicky.

“Yes, we have our long-term goals for the chamber, but it’s the small steps, holding out hands to fellow traders that will help us achieve this.

Their enthusiasm is palpable and infectious, and clearly inspires others. The ideas bouncing between them – “Excuse us,” said Clare at one point, “we’re having an impromptu committee meeting,” before coming up with another couple of ideas.

The optimism is tempered by reality, and the knowledge that those small successes, the incremental achievements, are the building blocks to sustainability rather than one big win.

They said that the CoT has three main ‘focuses’ this year.

“As well as a range of events in the town to bring attention to traders – such as the Easter Bunny hunt in April and an elf hunt in the run up to Christmas – we want to help improve the look of some of the shopping areas in the town. If we achieve that, it will benefit all traders in the town.”

Clare and Nicky made clear that all businesses are invited to join: “Llantwit Major Chamber of Trade is not just for those businesses with a ‘shop front’,” said Nicky. “Any business, any service supplier, any tradespeople, as well as shops, can join.”

Unsurprisingly, Nicky and Clare were gracious in their praise of other organisations and individuals involved, and that camaraderie, the shared vision, of all.

“Ian Hunt of Filco’s has been super,” said Nicky, “providing nibbles and refreshments for the chamber’s gatherings, and the support of the Town Hall has been great.”

They pause...

“I am very optimistic,” smiles Nicky.

“Yes,” agrees Clare. “it’s all gelling very well.”

The next meeting of Llantwit Major’s Chamber of Trade is on Wednesday, March 15, at The Hair Studio in Llantwit Major. For more information, visit the Llantwit Major Hub facebook group and search for “chamber of trade”.

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