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Recession no barrier to language firm's success

When it comes to thriving in some of the toughest economic conditions seen in recent times, one Swansea business is certainly talking the right language.
evpostWhen it comes to thriving in some of the toughest economic conditions seen in recent times, one Swansea business is certainly talking the right language. While many companies slashed marketing and advertising budgets as the recession hit home, Wolfestone Translation did the opposite. The Walter Road-based business is now reaping the rewards. In the past year, it has seen its turnover doubled and hopes to at least double it again by the same time next year. As a result it has announced massive expansion plans which will see its HQ move next door to a new four-storey £250,000 premises. Wolfestone is setting up offices in the USA and other locations as part of global expansion plans creating as many as 28 new jobs — around ten to 15 of which will be in Swansea. Polish-born Anna Bastek set up the company with Welsh business partner Roy Allkin in 2006. They currently employ 15 people in Swansea and two at an office in Germany. Ten of the world’s most popular languages are catered for at the firm’s Uplands base with the company also having a database of an additional 5,000 translators they can draw on if need be. Mr Allkin, from Ammanford, explained: “Each translator is a specialist in certain fields such as the medical or legal fields. This is important. For example, we need to make sure that the clauses in a legal document translation are exactly correct as to how they are written otherwise they might not be legally binding once translated.” Wolfestone has also invested £25,000 into new software to aid global expansion, matched by Assembly funding. For Mr Allkin the economic downturn could not have come at a better time. “Most people’s first reaction to a recession is to cut the purse strings. Sales and marketing are usually the first things to be cut back. It’s crazy. How are you going to generate the income to get yourselves out of the mess if you do that? We invested a lot of our money in getting our name out there. So as many of our competitors were reducing the size of their adverts in trade publications, we were increasing it. Because companies were shopping around to get a better deal they noticed us and started coming to us as a result.” Situating the businesses HQ in Wales’ second city instead of London has also paid dividends. “Being based in Swansea as opposed to London is an advantage,” said Mr Allkin. “We have lower overheads compared to the majority of translation businesses, which are based in London. Everything is done by electronic means and we’re able to keep our costs a lot lower. We set our stall out in the beginning to offer as high a quality service as others, if not better, at a good rate." Mr Allkin said: “For me, the majority of translation companies are set up and run by translators, whereas neither me or Anna are translators. Combining our skills and looking at it from a business viewpoint rather than a translation viewpoint gives us a slightly different approach than most. From the beginning we were thinking big. It’s moved a lot faster than we could have imagined.” In picture:Wolfestone Translation business partners Roy Allkin and Anna Bastek Photograph copyright of South Wales Evening Post, taken at the premises of Wolfestone Translation, Walter Road, Swansea, 10th August 2009

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