‘A Welsh Secret’, the first permanent shop dedicated to Welsh food and drink at Cardiff’s St David’s Dewi Sant Shopping Centre has officially opened – with support from Cywain.

A new addition to the capital’s flagship shopping centre, ‘A Welsh Secret’ provides growing companies with an enviable foodie showcase, and brings Welsh food and drink to the fore infront of thousands of potential customers each day.

Alongside shelves packed with Welsh produce, shoppers were treated to tasters, and several producers were on-hand to chat about their products.

There was a sprinkling of celebrity too, with the appearance of Welsh rugby international Lee Byrne – who along with fellow rugby icons Shane Williams, Mike Phillips and James Hook founded the FabFour Coffee brand and also Perthyn Gin which was launched last year.

Ian Paul, the founder of ‘A Welsh Secret’, has been in the retail sector all his working life. He spotted a gap in the market which would benefit Welsh producers and bring a ‘missing element’ to the wide variety of shops at St David’s Dewi Sant Shopping Centre. He said, “Over the years, many seasonal pop-up shops in the St David’s Dewi Sant Shopping Centre have featured Welsh food and drink producers, but I don’t think they succeeded in everything they wanted to achieve.

“I thought I could help by opening a permanent shop that can support smaller businesses that do not have the range to open a full shop of their own. I am passionate about Welsh food and drink, and I want to support local businesses - and ‘A Welsh Secret’ also enhances the Centre’s retail offering and I’m actively looking to increase the range of Welsh products in the shop.”

Ian has been helped in his quest for suppliers by Cywain, which has been instrumental in helping him source Welsh food and drink products for his new venture.

Designed and developed by Menter a Busnes, the Cywain project works with food and drink producers across Wales, helping them grow and build their businesses with support in a range of areas, including marketing, brand development and finance and facilitated by a network of development managers throughout Wales.

Ian said, “The support from Cywain and their development manager Nia Môn has been amazing. They have helped me to source products, and I’ve been put in touch with loads of food and drink producers – they have been absolutely great.

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

Cywain’s extensive client base and connections have helped make the “A Welsh Secret’ possible by tapping into the project’s expertise and experience in developing new market opportunities for Welsh producers.

Alex James, Cywain’s Project Manager, said, “We are delighted that Welsh food and drink producers have a dedicated and permanent retail presence in Cardiff’s flagship St David’s Dewi Sant Shoping Centre.

“We are proud of the part Cywain has played through its extensive client base to help Ian and his team to launch ‘A Welsh Secret’. Also, the variety of support offered by the Cywain team to growing producers wishing to boost their brand awareness and explore new routes to market.

“The St David’s Dewi Sant Shopping Centre’s demographic is completely new to most of the producers, with tens of thousands of shoppers visiting daily. Being part of ‘A Welsh Secret’ allows smaller producers to showcase their goods alongside some of the world’s largest brands, and its prime location raises the general awareness of Wales’ food and drink.

“We are already seeing the benefits, and the amount of sales many of the Cywain producers have already achieved through ‘A Welsh Secret’ has been fantastic.

‘‘Some doubled their December sales volumes, and the huge growth experienced by others has enabled them to expand their operations ahead of schedule and expedite plans by purchasing additional processing equipment.”

Among Cywain’s clients who are featured in “A Welsh Secret’ are Penylan Preserves and Printed Chocolates Ltd.

Clare Williams of Cardiff-based Penylan Preserves said: “A Welsh Secret has been amazing for me. I have just moved into a new unit so the chance to supply such a fantastic shop has been brilliant, and as the shop is so close to my production unit it allows me to deliver in person so I’ve been able to talk to customers.

“The extra sales in the run up to Christmas allowed me to grow and expand my business further, and I’m looking forward to working with other companies to provide great cheese and charcuterie pairings with my products in the shop’s deli section.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to Cywain for contacting me about the shop, it’s already proved to be a huge help to my expansion plans and progress much quicker than I could have dreamt about.”

Lee Ann Smith and team of Whitland-based Printed Chocolates Ltd handmakes to order decadent, and uniquely designed bespoke Belgian white and milk chocolate that is directly printed on with edible ink.

She said, “Retail is a new area for us and we’re currently looking to find further outlets to carry our chocolates. ‘A Welsh Secret’ proved to be very successful over the Christmas period. We’re now taking things to the next level by providing chocolates for seasonal holidays, occasions and events like Valentine’s Day, Six Nations and Easter.”