Le Club – the Franco Welsh Business Forum was officially launched last Friday 22nd February, at the British Embassy in Paris by Lord Llewellyn OBE, the British Ambassador to France, and the Secretary of State for Wales, Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP.
This not-for-profit business group aims to help stimulate business and partnerships between companies that have a link to both Wales and France, whether through their people, supply chains or business operations.
Le Club was founded by its Chair, Céline Jones, Solicitor and Head of the French Desk at Geldards LLP, and Dan Langford, Group Marketing Director at leading recruitment firm Acorn.
Céline Jones explained why initiatives like Le Club are needed in Wales and France:
“The origin of Le Club builds on the clear desire of existing businesses and government organisations in France, Wales and the wider UK to develop and grow cross-border business relations.
“With a vibrant and growing French business community across Wales, we wanted to create a forum that would facilitate connections between them and Welsh business people, and open doors to new trading opportunities between the two nations. We have received nothing but total enthusiasm and support for this initiative from businesses and governments alike.”
France was the second biggest export market for Welsh products in the year to June 2018, with £2.7billion of Welsh products going over the Channel. France exported £0.8billion worth of French products to Wales during that year.
“These figures show that particularly now, in light of Brexit, developing the mutual understanding and collaboration between Wales and France will become ever-more critical.
“Le Club is designed to complement, support and help leverage the work already being done by both the Welsh and UK governments, not to duplicate it. Through this forum, we are aiming to galvanize and engage our private sector members so we can work together with all three governments, to support everyone’s objectives and continue to make Wales a great place to do business.”
“I am very proud to be chairing Le Club through its early development and to see it officially launched in Paris. We look forward to seeing it evolve over the next few years.”
Le Club has already attracted sponsorship and support from Bouygues, Keolis, Acorn Recruitment and Geldards.
The Bouygues Group operates in over 100 countries spanning construction, civil works, energy, services, telecommunications and media. Bouygues UK, which is very active in Wales, delivers award-winning construction, development and regeneration projects across public and private sectors.
Keolis is one of the world leaders in shared mobility and was part of the successful joint venture (with Amey) to run the Transport for Wales rail and metro franchise. This £5billion contract is the largest ever awarded in Wales.
Welsh-headquartered Acorn Recruitment is one of the UK’s leading recruitment firms, with offices across Wales and the UK, and overseas through its Acorn Global operations and its parent, French-owned Synergie, whose head office is in Paris.
Geldards is one of Wales and the UK’s leading regional law firms, with offices in Cardiff, London, Nottingham and Derby. Recognised as a Welsh heavyweight in the legal sector, the firm also advises a range of overseas clients with British business interests with a particular focus on French, German, Spanish and US markets.
Le Club will be unveiling events during the spring on its website www.walesfrance.com and through its social media https://twitter.com/WalesWeekParis.
The launch of Le Club was the first event of the inaugural Wales Week à Paris, part of the Wales Week Worldwide initiative following the success of Wales Week in London over the last two years, and which now also sees Wales Weeks taking place this year in different places across the world including New York, Melbourne, Washington, New England, Essex, Newcastle, Ohio and Germany.