A popular centre of Welsh excellence for Welsh food is preparing to welcome its millionth visitor – just three years after it opened.
The news was revealed during a visit to Bodnant Welsh Food in the Conwy Valley by Ken Skates AM, Wales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.
Mr Skates was there to open the centre’s new gift shop and help the centre mark its third anniversary.
Managing Director Chris Morton said Bodnant has been visited by hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe since it was first opened by the Prince of Wales in July 2012.
And the coming months will see the millionth person cross the threshold into the renovated Furnace Farm, to visit its award-winning farm shop, wine cellar, tea rooms, restaurant and farmhouse accommodation along with the Welsh Bee Centre.
Trade has risen by 10 per cent, with a further boost on the cards thanks to the new gift shop, while expansion plans have seen the opening of ‘mini-Bodnants’ in a holiday park at Llanrug and a Wirral garden centre, along with a new home-delivery service, said Chris.
The new gift shop stocks a range of Clogau Gold jewellery, along with hand-made cards, scented candles made by rugby legend Scott Quinnell and his family, local guide books, beauty products, slate servers and food and drink from around Wales.
Mr Skates, who was given a tour of Bodnant, said: “Wales’ reputation for high quality food and drink is growing and is becoming an essential part of our tourism offer. Earlier this year we launched our Food Tourism Action Plan to make the most of this industry and the developments at Bodnant are a great example of what we want to achieve.
“Bodnant is adding to the growing portfolio of visitor attractions in North Wales, and helping to make this area one of the very best regions to visit for food and drink, for outdoor activity and for adventure.”
The gift shop has been created from storage space at the centre to meet customer demand, explained Chris.
“We have many tour coaches visit the centre, as well as families on day trips, and many have said that they would like a Welsh-made memento to take home with them, other than food. So we looked around to see how we could expand out range within the space available to us.
“I am delighted to be working with Clogau Gold, which has a display in the gift shop of its unique Welsh jewellery, as every piece contains gold from Snowdonia. It is important to us that our products have a strong connection with Wales.
“More than half of all the products sold in the farm shop are produced at Bodnant Welsh Food centre, and three-quarters of what we sell comes from Wales, including specialist foods from over 100 artisan producers.
“The new gift shop, combined with the other expansion schemes we are putting in place, will help to safeguard the jobs of the 80 people who work here plus hopefully create new jobs in the future.
“We are aiming to continue to increase sales, which is good for our suppliers and the local economy as well.”
Bodnant is now firmly on the map, with dozens of tours from the Far East and North America, plus tourists from cruise ships docking in Holyhead and Liverpool.
The centre’s farm shop was named as the best in the UK by the prestigious BBC Good Food magazine – bringing a congratulatory tweet from Prince Charles. Bodnant was awarded Best Retailer in Wales in the Farm Shop Awards, and picked up a host of prizes at the Royal Welsh Show, International Cheese Show and Welsh Awards for Excellence in Meat Products.
Bodnant’s owners have also been honoured with a conservation award from industry body RICS for breathing new life the redundant farm buildings.
Bodnant’s dairy makes ice-creams that are sold in the centre’s tearooms, Hayloft restaurant and the farm shop, along with butter that is still patted and shaped by hand, and sold wrapped in greaseproof paper.
Bodnant was named Welsh Retailer of the Year in the prestigious Farm Shop and Deli Awards.
More details at www.bodnant-welshfood.co.uk or call 01492 651100