A Welsh Secret aims to boost the amount of independent Welsh produce available in the mall

Showcase for Welsh food and drink opens in flagship shopping centre

Grangetown man’s venture offers independent producers a new outlet

THE first permanent shop dedicated to Welsh food and drink has opened at Cardiff’s St David’s Shopping Centre.

Businessman Ian Paul opened A Welsh Secret after spotting a gap in the market for independent, small food and drink companies to showcase their produce.

 Mr Paul, originally from Grangetown, has worked in the retail industry and pop-up shops his entire life and believes that independent Welsh produce hasn’t been marketed correctly in the shopping centre — until now.

“I’ve worked in Saint David’s Centre for some time and seen many pop-up shops that have featured Welsh food and drink producers, but not managed to sustain a shop longer than a season,” said Mr Paul.

“I don’t think they succeeded in everything they wanted to achieve and that may be down to the fact they don’t have a large enough product range.

“I decided to open a permanent shop that can support smaller businesses and give them a platform to sell where they don’t have to take on an entire shop, they can just bring their products to us and we can help them sell.”

Cywain, a scheme that helps food and drink producers across Wales to develop, was instrumental in helping Mr Paul find his wide range of products.

“They were brilliant, absolutely fantastic! The support from Cywain and their development manager Nia Môn has been amazing. They have helped me to source products and helped me speak to all the different producers and since then it’s just grown organically.

“It’s been amazing to work with the producers. Their commitment, drive, and work ethic is truly inspiring.”

Cywain has allowed many Welsh business owners to expand and reach new customers

Nia Môn, development manager at Cywain said “It’s great to hear the news that A Welsh Secret is going to be open for the long-term, because we’re here in the biggest shopping centre in Wales I’d say.

“It’s a special opportunity for Welsh producers to have a shelf on the main street for shopping in Wales, right next to British and worldwide companies.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity for Cywain producers to show their brands and their produce to a completely new market and new group of people, along with tourists from around the world, here in Cardiff.”

A Welsh Secret, which officially opened on January 24, has already attracted customers from across the world allowing Mr Paul to move forward on his plans to expand.

A Welsh Secret offers a range of food and drink, along with handmade greeting cards (credit Eirian Jones)

“I did expect lots of Welsh people to visit the shop, however, we found out we’ve had people from Australia, Japan, India, America, Canada. You name it, they’ve been in. It’s fantastic!

“It’s quite encouraging and exciting to think that these small businesses are now reaching the across the world. It’s all about showing people what Wales can do. We want to give them a voice – that’s why I’ve named it A Welsh Secret because no-one knows what we have to offer!”

A Welsh Secret sells products varying from Perthyn Gin and FabFour coffee, founded by Rugby stars Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Mike Phillips and James Hook, to homemade chutney and chocolate. Mr Paul believes a vital part to the shop’s success is the combination of big Welsh brands marketed alongside small businesses, allowing people to explore further than they usually would.

“The next step is to launch our online business, all the stuff here will be sold online. Then in the next phase we’ll be opening a coffee shop in the store.”