Ann Ellis is the CEO and co-founder of global organisation Mauve Group – she originally hails from Denbigh, North Wales. Mauve Group is a leading provider of global HR, employment and expansion services. The organisation has recently launched a new Welsh company, Mauve Cymru, designed to help Welsh businesses expand overseas and bring external businesses to Wales.
What does Mauve Group do?
Mauve Group is a global organisation that helps businesses of any size or industry to expand internationally. I founded the business alongside my husband John in 1996 to support him and his telecoms engineer colleagues on their international work projects. Today we have our own companies in 64 countries, and provide solutions and services in 150 countries worldwide.
Our services include company set-up, employer of record, international payroll and compliance, local HR and contracts consultancy, international market research, risk assessments and project management.
How will the launch of Mauve Cymru help growing Welsh businesses?
The launch of Mauve Cymru will present new opportunities for Welsh businesses to bring their products and services to new international markets – and they don’t need to have huge resources, infrastructure or knowledge to go global.
Wales is a growing player on the global stage – its soft power is building momentum. We want to help Welsh businesses to leverage this and grow internationally. We are keen to invite external businesses to put down roots in Wales, too, by showing that there are fertile areas for business and innovation outside traditional UK financial centres.
How have your Welsh roots influenced your business?
I grew up in Denbighshire in a farming community, and knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur from the age of 9. Everyone in those settings is entrepreneurial in their own way – they run their own small businesses – and from a young age I went with my father to his suppliers and customers and heard how he interacted.
The house where I was born dated back to Elizabethan times when it was owned by Katheryn of Berain, known as ‘Mam Cymru’ – she was really one of the first Welsh businesswomen, and became the most influential Welsh woman of the period. I always found her story inspiring as a child and I think it did in part influence the path I’ve chosen to take.
What has inspired you to launch Mauve Cymru?
In my career, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and had amazing opportunities in business – now I’ve gone full circle and come back to Wales to support Welsh companies. During the pandemic I spent some time in North Wales and it seemed important to give something back to the communities and enterprises that laid the foundations of my business.
There are really promising signs coming from Welsh business at the moment – the figures out last week showing record-breaking numbers of small businesses registering in Wales indicate to me that there’s an entrepreneurial spirit being embraced, and our services and knowledge could help them.
What opportunities are there in Wales for inbound international businesses?
This week has seen a huge deal between Rolls Royce, Airbus and Air India bringing thousands of new jobs to North Wales at Airbus’ wingmaking facility. In a complex global financial situation, this is a landmark opportunity and shows the appetite is there for huge corporations to invest in Wales.
From my experience of speaking to globally-minded businesses, there’s lots to love about Wales – it’s close in proximity to financial centres like London and well-connected in terms of land logistics to many parts of the UK. Plus, it’s competitive when it comes to factors like cost of industrial space and skilled workers. At Mauve, tech, science and engineering are huge customer sectors for us, so I’m excited by the developments in life sciences and digital that we are seeing coming out of Wales.
I travel often, and there is always such interest in Wales and my Welsh heritage. We saw it at the World Cup in December, and during Expo 2020 in Dubai last year – the Welsh government are doing important things to promote Wales on a global scale.
We are really proud to be part of the Wales Week initiative, too – its founder Dan Langford has done a fantastic job of showcasing Welsh achievement internationally.
What tips would you give to Welsh founders looking to expand overseas?
Get advice from knowledgeable people from the beginning – whether that is the Welsh government’s export team, local lawyers or accountants, or contacts who have done it before themselves, a localised viewpoint is really valuable and will help you avoid mistakes made through naivety.
Have a healthy attitude towards risk – while you don’t want to throw yourself into an expansion plan two-footed, it also does not help to second guess every step as you will end up restricting yourself. My attitude has always been that calculated risk-taking and having belief in your idea is very important as an entrepreneur.
What exciting things have Mauve Cymru got on the horizon in 2023?
Firstly, I am looking forward to the launch of Mauve Cymru at Wales Week London next week – we are holding a special event to unveil the new company and celebrate what it means to be Welsh. West-end performer and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Mared Williams will be singing for us – she comes from the same area of North Wales as I do, and it’s amazing to see what she is achieving.
We are also really excited to partner with our friends at GlobalWelsh, a community dedicated to elevating the international Welsh diaspora. The collaboration will support scaling Welsh business by providing them with new opportunities, knowledge and connections in and out of Wales.
Beyond Wales, we’re expanding our global teams and presence in Asia and LATAM, which are big areas of growth for us – so I will be kept busy travelling between there, my homes in Dubai and Miami, and Wales of course.
Mauve Group’s Wales Week London event is taking place Thursday 2nd March at the Nave at St Ethelburga’s – tickets are free but strictly limited – secure yours here.