1. ITV Report

2012 review: A year in Welsh business

Peacocks going into administration in January was a shock to the Welsh economy Photo: ITV News Wales

Carole Green is ITV Wales' Business Correspondent. She has gauged the state of Welsh businesses both big and small in 2012, with the help of the ITV Wales Business Club.

Rising costs, including fuel, energy and raw materials against a backdrop of low business and consumer confidence were just some of the challenges facing Welsh businesses in 2012.

The year began with a Welsh retail success story collapsing under the weight of £600m of debt. Peacocks, one of Wales' highest-profile companies, became the biggest high street failure since Woolworths. The fall into administration affected 600 stores and 9,000 staff. A month later in February, Edinburgh Woollen Mill bought the chain saving two-thirds of the stores and keeping the headquarters in Cardiff.

Meanwhile, Wales' biggest private sector employer Tata said 2012 would be a defining year for steel. High energy costs, rock bottom prices and the lowest demand ever for steel led the company to announce 500 job losses across the business in Wales. There was some good news though, the Indian giant removed doubts over the relighting of the new blast furnace at the Port Talbot works. Tata has invested £185m in the rebuild and the company says it's a vote of confidence in the future of the South Wales site.

The Prime Minister visited Airbus recently to celebrate another new order Credit: Martin Rickett / PA Wire / Press Association Images

After a record-breaking year in 2011, Airbus sales continued to be strong whilst the company sought a solution to small cracks found in some of the wings of its flagship super jumbo the A380. The biggest deals were signed with Air Asia, Pegasus Airlines and Philippine Airlines. The Broughton wing maker which employs 6,000 people in Flintshire, now has a full order book for the next seven years.

In March in North West Wales, news that German consortium RWE and E.ON were putting Horizon up for sale meant question marks over new nuclear build on Anglesey. The sale of Horizon to Japanese giant Hitachi in October though gave a boost to Anglesey's bid to become an energy island.

Transport and news that rail electrification will extend as far as Swansea was welcomed by the business community. Now business leaders are making the case for electrification along the North Wales coast amid fears the region could be left behind.

The Valleys lines will also be electrified, it was announced in July Credit: ITV News Wales

With unemployment falling and the UK economy emerging from the double dip recession in October, the Federation Of Small Businesses in Wales said confidence was slowly returning. Its "Voice Of Small Business" index for Q4 found confidence was higher than in same period in the last two years.

There's no doubt 2012 has been a tough year for some businesses but there have been Welsh winners. Exporters focusing on markets outside the Eurozone have fared well. The Welsh and UK Governments both agree even more Welsh firms need to look to new overseas markets in 2013.

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