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New study reveals photography services as Cardiff’s fastest growing businesses

A new study reveals Cardiff has seen an uptick in photography services, bakeries, and garden centres which have all been identified as the city’s fastest growing businesses between 2017 and 2022.

In particular, the number of businesses specialising in photography grew by 419%, showing that people are increasingly looking for gear that goes beyond what our smartphones are capable of. Also making their mark on the city’s economy, the number of businesses specialising in physical wellbeing has increased by 294% increase, propelling the popularity of fitness through alternative means such as yoga or dance as people look to maintain a healthier quality of life, especially in a post-pandemic world.

Tyl by NatWest, the payments partner supporting UK SMEs and micro businesses, commissioned the Evolving Enterprise Index, showing the fastest growing (Table One) and fastest emerging (Table Two) industries across the UK’s largest cities, including Cardiff.

In partnership with Data City, Tyl by NatWest analysed data from Companies House, showing the number of businesses newly opened in Cardiff’s most economically significant industries between 2017 and 2022.

Table One: Cardiff’s fastest-growing enterprises

Sector Growth rate in new businesses opened (2017-2022)
Photography 419%
Bakeries 340%
Garden Centres 322%
Physical Wellbeing Activities 294%
Hairdressing and Beauty 240%
Financial Management 195%
Travel Agencies 183%
Dry Cleaners 136%
Management Consultancies 101%

Last year, research from Tyl by NatWest revealed that hair salons are some of the most sought-after shop on a ‘perfect high street’, with Cardiff seeing a 240% increase in new hair and beauty salons founded since 2017.

Mike Elliff, CEO of Tyl by NatWest comments: “This research is a testament to the very best of British business and shows that Cardiff’s SMEs are responding to local demands. Entrepreneurs have had to weather an unprecedented global pandemic, a shifting political landscape and a rapidly transforming hybrid world. Our Evolving Enterprise Index shows that the UK is a thriving climate for new entrepreneurs who have cemented themselves as the epitome of resilience given the challenges of recent years. Whether SMEs are looking to start, scale or grow their business, we are proud of the role Tyl can play in helping them do so. Our index offers valuable insights for SMEs to better understand the unique business blend of their local communities, and which markets they can take advantage of.”

Tyl’s research also spotlights which sectors in Cardiff have gained completely newfound momentum between 2017 and 2022. The emergence of 87 brand new clothing stalls and markets shows entrepreneurs are eager to tackle a competitive fashion industry and make their own statement. Additionally, the founding of 46 new games and toy shops suggests physical outlets with hands-on moments still inspire a sense of wonder among children and nostalgia for parents alike.

Table Two: Cardiff’s fastest emerging enterprises

Sector No. of newly opened businesses (2017-2022)
Clothing, Textiles, Footwear Stalls and Markets 87
Games and Toy Shops 46
Recreational vehicle parks, trailer parks and camping 32
Bookshops 29
First Level Higher Education 26
Post Graduate Level Higher Education 26
Food and Drink Stalls and Markets 23

According to small business expert, Teresa Heath-Wareing: “The key to a thriving SME economy is in a wide variety of sectors that will appeal to a diverse range of consumers. It’s reassuring to see the positive outlook for small businesses who take the time to understand their local landscape and business climate.”

She adds, “Small businesses are fighting an uphill price battle against larger organisations. To succeed in such a competitive environment SMEs must embrace the ways they add value to their customers that go beyond the bottom line.”

Tyl’s top tips for SMEs to improve their products and services:

1. Get to know your customers better

Tailor your product and service offerings to fit the wants and needs of your customers using data. AI tools such as chatbots and predictive analytics can help you make informed business decisions to help grow your customer base. Investing in business analytics is a useful way for SMEs to have an accurate handle on sales, payments, and inventory, often keeping track of everything in one place and at the same time. Features like the Tyl Portal help by providing visibility over transactions, invoices, and settlement history, and can help you find out when the busiest times are in your business. These insights are vital when it comes to refining your business model and gaining an understanding of issues such as staff numbers and what products are flying off the shelves, ultimately helping you maximise your profits.

2. Embed your business’ purpose in the community

With the role of business increasingly recognised in the fight against the climate crisis and social mobility, showing that you at least consider these factors in your business model is rapidly becoming a minimum expectation for many consumers and investors. However, the real growth and strengthening of customer relationships comes when you go that one step further, showing how your business’ commitment in these areas specifically improves life for the local community.

3. Diversify your payment methods

Bricks and mortar shops are an important brand building piece for retailers, but consumers want flexibility and choice in how and when they pay. With more ways of taking payments than ever before, like Tap to Pay and Buy Now Pay Later, it’s never been easier to give your customers a payment method that suits their spending habits and gives them more transparency over their finances. Adopt new ways to pay like payment links and QR codes to give your customers the most convenient shopping experience.