Wales

Budget 2015: Hiut Denim fitting in with London growth

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Media captionHiut Denim co-founder David Hieatt said the internet meant you could produce good products from anywhere

Is Wales cashing in on high spending in the south east of England?

Chancellor George Osborne's main Budget theme is expected to be to spell out what he sees as his achievements, such as halving the deficit, and that the economy is recovering well.

We know that growth is being enjoyed in most in parts of London and the south east of England, but how is that affecting Wales?

Hiut Denim, a three-year-old company in Cardigan, has more orders for its handmade jeans than it can satisfy and plans to expand its 14-strong workforce.

Its sales are up 30% in a year and its co-founder David Hieatt said if it had enough staff to make the products, sales would have been up by 60%.

The jeans are not only handmade but signed by the person who makes them and they sell for more than £100.

The biggest single market for the jeans, which are sold online, is London and the south east of England, but sales are also strong across Europe and the United States.

Image caption David Hieatt says there are two parts of his business - the making and the marketing

Originally from the south Wales valleys, Mr Hieatt set up outdoor clothing company Howies in 1995 before selling it to Timberland 11 years later.

He also set up the online ideas festival Do Lectures from his base in Ceredigion.

Mr Hieatt said "telling the story" behind the company was vital to the business's success.

'So sad'

While one part of the workforce make the trousers, another concentrates on making films and taking photos to spread the word through social media.

Mr Hieatt told me selling online was much cheaper than a few years ago and it meant companies in Wales could sell into any market.

He said the internet was "changing the whole maker movement," as he calls it.

Companies could feasibly be based anywhere, with rural Wales a lifestyle choice.

Mr Hieatt said: "We can afford the best materials, the highest craftsmanship and we can sell direct".

As for the Budget, he is calling on Mr Osborne to back apprentices and recognise the "maker movement".

He said it was growing but needed help, and was a way for more rural parts of the UK to benefit from customers spending money wherever they live.

Wales has been held back by being too humble he said and that "the biggest waste in the Welsh economy is potential which hasn't been fulfilled and it's so sad".

As well as his own company's ambitions he shares a wider vision for the economy.

"I'd love to get people making more," he said.

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