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Hi, I’m Amanda, the Business Engagement Officer for the Retail sector at FOR Cardiff. I joined in April 2023 after the store I was managing, Paperchase in the St. David’s Centre, sadly closed after going into administration. After nearly 20 years working in the retail industry, I was keen to see my redundancy as an opportunity, and looked to move into a role that would allow me to make use of my skills to positively impact the city.
I had previously engaged with FOR Cardiff by working in a levy-paying business, so I had some idea of what the role of Business Engagement Officer would entail. It has been a steep learning curve, but a rewarding and enjoyable one!
The major part of my role involves, unsurprisingly, engaging with member businesses, specifically in the retail sector. I spend part of each day out and about in Cardiff, meeting retail management and members of their teams in stores all over the city centre. We could be meeting for the first time, in which case I will run through the basics of FOR Cardiff and the initiatives from which the store can benefit, such as downloading The Card app for some exclusive discounts, signing up to the Gift Card or sending their team members on some free training. I also take the opportunity to get to know the business and how we can better support them. Or I might be popping in to say hello and see if there’s anything I can help with, or to gather feedback on a recent project or event.
The rest of my day is usually spent in the office doing the admin for my interactions. It has been a challenge getting used to the slower pace compared to the frantic energy of retail, but I’m adapting! I have really appreciated being able to make my own work and plan my own days; each member of the Business Engagement Team has come from a different industry and has a unique expertise and personality which FOR Cardiff encourages us to use and express.
One of the very first things I did after joining FOR Cardiff was to go out to businesses in the St. David’s Centre to gather feedback on the BrickLive Dino Discovery Trail we funded over the Easter holiday. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and it was so nice to have the opportunity to talk to retailers about such a fun project. Many had been around the trail themselves on their days off, picking up free dino hats and trail maps from Guest Services!
During Pride Month in June, and ahead of Pride Cymru weekend, I visited as many businesses as I could to introduce the Safe Places scheme. This is a nationwide scheme to create a network of safe havens for people feeling vulnerable or unsafe in the city, and I feel passionately about signing up more businesses, so we can grow our network and make Cardiff a safer and more welcoming city for all. Everyone I spoke to agreed that they would like to be part of the network, with many saying that they already provide a refuge to people feeling unsafe. I was so gratified to hear about this spirit of community and inclusivity, which is something I want to help build upon in my role.
At the moment, I’m working on introducing the FOR Cardiff Gift Card to more businesses. This Gift Card can be purchased in a variety of places around the city, and keeps spending local. It’s free and simple to set up and offers another method of payment to customers. As a gifting option it’s excellent, as there are just over a hundred businesses in Cardiff city centre currently accepting the Gift Card, offering a wide choice to even the fussiest of giftees! I’m eager to get more retailers on board to help drive sales and footfall into Cardiff and help the high street bounce back.
I’m looking forward to getting involved in the exciting projects FOR Cardiff has planned for the rest of the year, including events, installations and the launch of the Women’s Safety Charter. I’m also keen to get out and meet the rest of the retailers I look after in my role and build beneficial relationships with them. I’m always happy to hear from my businesses, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like a visit, or more information on anything we have going on at FOR Cardiff! You can also stay up to date by subscribing to our e-newsletter.