Struggling small business in west Wales calls for greater support in run up to Christmas

ITV Wales
Charlotte Bates has a second full time job to keep her vegan food business going. Credit: ITV Wales

A vegan food producer from Carmarthenshire has told ITV Wales she's been forced to take on a second full-time job to keep her business going.

Charlotte Bates says she is struggling through the cost of living crisis.

She started Good Carma Foods in 2010 and has dedicated the business in the memory of her late mother, who had to give up dairy products during her battle with cancer.

The business produces vegan alternatives to cheese.

Cllr Hazel Evans is hopeful Carmarthenshire County Council's pop up stalls with help publicise small and local businesses

Charlotte has admitted, 14 years on, that she is struggling to make ends meet, as are many bespoke businesses like hers.

She said: "I've got friends who have had businesses that have closed down.

"They couldn't keep going because of the cost of everything and have gone back to full time jobs.

"I've had to take on other work to keep my business going.

"I put my prices up, but I've dropped them back because I wasn't getting the sales as people couldn't afford it.

"It's not the consumer's fault but something needs to change to help small businesses thrive."

This year, Good Carma Foods is one of the local businesses trading in Carmarthen's Pop-Up Christmas Market which is run by the local authority.

Councillor Hazel Evans, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism at Carmarthenshire County Council is hopeful the pop-up stalls in the town centre will give smaller traders a boost over the festive period.

Cllr Evans said: "Once the business is known and is on the street then people can contact them throughout the year.

"That's the hope of having these Pop-Up stalls".

Aidan Jones started his business during the Covid Pandemic, but says business is picking up now.

"I would encourage everybody to contact Carmarthenshire County Council because through the shared Prosperity Fund, some Welsh Government Funding and county council funding there are grants available to help businesses start up."

The Welsh Government additionally provides specialist advice and guidance to new and growing businesses through its Business Wales Services.

Other traders set up in Carmarthen town centre over the festive period are hoping for footfall to grow between now and Christmas.

Aidan Jones, who has recently established his own sweets business, said: "It has been a very slow start, but we've had a couple of contracts come in and things are looking up.

"On the run up to the weekend, you're always going to have those last minute shoppers coming into town. Hopefully, that'll generate some sort of sale as well then."

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