Record numbers visit Friars Walk on opening weekend

Friars Walk, Newport’s hotly anticipated new retail and leisure destination has attracted a record number of shoppers to Newport City Centre on its opening weekend.

As one of only a few new shopping centres to launch in the UK this year, the £117 million scheme is already providing the basis of the wider regeneration in Newport. The 390,000 sq ft open air shopping centre is fully integrated with the neighbouring Kingsway Centre and the wider retail offer in the city centre. It is estimated that it will double retail sales in the city, adding £120 million per annum and overall, Newport’s catchment is predicted to increase from 211,000 to 367,000 with an estimated footfall of 10-12 million per annum (Source: Javelin/DTZ).

Designed by Leslie Jones Architecture, Friars Walk opened on schedule last Thursday (12 November) with 25 of the stores, six of the restaurants and the eight screen Cineworld multiplex cinema trading. This includes retail anchors H&M and Next, both 20,000 sq ft stores, and a 90,000 sq ft full offer Debenhams Department Store. Further restaurants are due to open in the coming weeks including Chiquitos and Frankie and Benny’s, with a Marks and Spencer Food Hall to launch in early December, in time for the Christmas rush.

Friars Walk was made possible by a unique public-private partnership that saw Newport City Council provide Queensberry Real Estate with access to a loan to fund the scheme. It is at the heart of the wider regeneration underway in Newport and has already created 1,200 jobs in the new shops and restaurants worth an estimated £15 million a year in salaries to the local economy. Major employers including Lloyds Bank, Airbus, Admiral Insurance and the Office of National Statistics have also been attracted back to the city centre, contributing to the city’s 69,000 jobs and increasing employment rate – which is among the highest in Wales.

£230 million worth of regeneration projects have also been completed in the city in the last 10 years, including a new University of South Wales campus opposite the Friars Walk development and reclamation of the former derelict Old Town Dock.