When Paul Hornblow put-up a temporary closed sign in his shop window in Cardiff’s Morgan Arcade because of the coronavirus lockdown, he never imagined his own daughter would be struck down by the very same virus.
Within days of moving his luxury watch business online the father-of-four’s eldest daughter, Ellis, a nurse at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Pontyclun, was diagnosed with COVID-19. It was a worrying time for the family, but thankfully she went on to make a full recovery and is back at work helping patients.
Now Paul is showing the same fighting spirit with his business Watches of Wales and the support of his bank NatWest.
The father-of-four said: “This is a really tough time for lots of businesses on the high street in Wales, but when someone you love is hit by the virus it puts everything into context. We’re just so relived she’s recovered and back to full health. We feel very lucky.
“The lockdown has been a big upheaval – particularly for retail businesses. Seeing the streets so empty is very strange, but people’s health is what matters most. We specialise in luxury watches and it has been more difficult getting hold of stock, but we are pushing through.
“We’ve had to bring forward a lot of the plans we had for the business because the lockdown has changed our priorities. The big one for us was updating our website to improve the customer experience, so we’re now implementing this a lot more quickly than first planned.
“We’ve seen increased traffic to the site because of the lockdown, but we’re also working on being in the strongest position possible to hit the ground running when it is over. NatWest’s support has been really important to us during this time. They’ve been quick to recognise the support we need and set-up additional finance to help us. I think the high street will get through this and when the lockdown is over people will want to get out and embrace their local retailers again.”
Jenny Rathbone, AM for Cardiff Central, said: “Watches of Wales is one of the iconic traders in the Morgan Arcade. We need to nurture our small businesses through the lockdown necessary to save lives during the pandemic so that people still have quality jobs going forward.”
Matthew Maunder, NatWest Business Banking Relationship Manager, Cardiff and South East Wales, said: “Wales’ high streets are so important to our towns and cities and as a bank we’re working really hard to provide these businesses with the support and finance they need during the pandemic.
“We feel a real responsibility as a bank to help our customers in these unprecedented times, which is why we launched a £5bn Working Capital Fund so businesses have access to the funds they need.
“We’ve also introduced repayment holidays, temporary emergency loans with no fees, and waived fees on certain overdrafts. We want businesses to know we are there for them and will do everything we can to support them.”