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‘Doomed’ social club resurrected thanks to public funding

13 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Club secretary Marnie Bollard in Merthyr Labour Club

Martin Shipton

A local social club has pulled itself back from the brink of closure to forecasting more than £1m in revenue this year, as support and public funding leads to major renovations and new customers.

Having served its community for over 100 years, support from Business Wales has helped a rejuvenated Merthyr Tydfil Labour Club to secure thousands in funding that was urgently needed for renovation work.

Without support, the future looked bleak for the club. Like many hospitality businesses, Covid closures, decreased footfall, and energy costs tripling overnight, threatened to close its doors permanently.

Not willing to see the club call time on her watch, Club Secretary Marnie Bollard contacted Business Wales for support to help safeguard the businesses and its workforce.

Funding

Working with Business Wales relationship manager Jayesh Parmar, Marnie and the club’s steward, Matthew Curtis, set out to build plans that would ultimately unlock thousands in funding that was desperately needed to breathe new life into the historic building and create new revenue streams.

Business Wales’ support, combined with assistance from Merthyr Tydfil council, became the backbone of successful funding applications, which included securing over £30,000 via Creative Wales’ Music Capital Fund.

With over £55,000 of funding in total to add to its steadily increasing revenue, the club made significant refurbishments to its facilities, including a complete overhaul of its function hall and the installation of new PA and lighting systems.

Working with the Merthyr Enterprise Centre, MTEC, and local contractors, the club was able to remain open to customers during renovations. Those updates have already attracted a new, younger, and loyal customer base.

Decarbonisation advisers

Business Wales decarbonisation advisers will also help the club explore options to supplement energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint through technology, such as solar panels.

Describing the club’s transformation, Marnie Bollard said: “Before working with Business Wales, the future was very uncertain. Being able to access support from a range of advisers changed everything for us. We quickly learned that with the right policies and procedures in place, we could make a real business case for why our club, our community, deserved support that could save us.”

Marnie and her team are now working to attract new bands and entertainers, market the club as a wedding venue, while growing their workforce and ability to bolster the local economy.

Marnie added: “There are a lot of misconceptions with clubs like ours. People think we only serve older generations, that we’re stuck in the past. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re working to ensure that this building serves generations to come. Thanks to the support we’ve received and the hard work of our bar staff, we’re already attracting new customers. 2024 promises to be a landmark year for us, with the chance to break £1m in revenue, but we think it’s only just the start.”

Jayesh Parmar, a relationship manager for Business Wales, said: “Marnie and her team have worked tirelessly to save the business. It has been a real work of collaboration, with multiple Business Wales advisers joining forces with the local council, and contractors to save this historic community hub for generations to come. With continued support and collaboration, I can see the club’s door remain open for another century.”

Sustainable 

Gerwyn Evans, Head of Creative Wales, said: “The Music Capital Fund has supported venues all across Wales, helping them to become more sustainable businesses. Improved facilities will add to the range of use of venues, attract better artists and increase audience numbers. All of which will have an immediate economic benefit to music businesses, their supply chains, and the industry as a whole.”

Andrew Evans, Enterprise Manager at MTEC, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Marnie and the team at Merthyr Labour Club, and to be able to provide the necessary business support alongside Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Business Wales to enable them to realise the club’s potential.

“This is hopefully just the start of the journey, and we look forward to continuing to support the Labour Club going forward with their future plans and aspirations.”

Business Wales is funded by the Welsh Government. For more information and support to help your business discover new opportunities, and to speak to a specialist adviser, contact Business Wales. Call 03000 6 03000 or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/


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