Debenhams has today confirmed that it will open a full line 93,000 square foot department store in the heart of Newport city centre.
The Debenhams department store, which is expected to open in autumn 2015, will be the anchor for Newport’s long awaited multi-million pound redevelopment, Friars Walk, which was granted planning permission last month (March 2012).
Developer Queensberry Real Estate will demolish existing buildings in the John Frost Square area and create the landmark department store, together with 35 shop units, an eight-screen cinema, up to ten restaurants and cafes, a new bus station and a 360 space car park. It is anticipated that work will start on the development in 2013.
As well as creating up to 1,100 new jobs, the Friars Walk scheme will provide more than 39,000 square metres of retail floor space in the heart of the city centre together with a new public realm and a new John Frost Square.
Gareth Dougherty, acquisitions manager at Debenhams, said:
Newport has been a priority for us for sometime being one of the largest UK cities without a Debenhams. “We are delighted to be anchoring Friars Walk with a full line department store. The development will give us the opportunity to bring the Debenhams brand and its designers to Newport. Gareth Dougherty, acquisitions manager at Debenhams
Speaking of the announcement, Stuart Harris, commercial partner of Queensberry Real Estate, said:
"The signing of Debenhams following on the back of the granting of planning for Friars Walk means the scheme is on track to open in 2015. It is recognition of the huge potential of a revitalised Newport.
"We are now in the process of agreeing terms with other major retailers who have also recognised the innovative approach of the city council and ourselves. Friars Walk has been designed to meet the future requirements of national, regional and local retail and leisure occupiers. It will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of Newport while it is crucially linked to the wider strategy for the city, as recently recognised by the Portas reports.
"In addition, we have agreed terms with a cinema operator for an eight-screen cinema that will anchor the leisure element of Friars Walk, known as Usk Plaza. We have already had significant interest in nine restaurants as they are supported not only by the cinema, but also the Riverside Theatre, Newport Leisure Centre, the new University campus and Rodney Parade all of which are directly adjacent or opposite."
Bill Mayne, chairman of urban regeneration company Newport Unlimited, said:
"Today’s announcement is fantastic news - it is an incredibly important demonstration of the commitment of such a key retailer to the city’s future.
"With Debenhams now confirmed as the anchor store for the Friars Walk scheme, commitments from other retail and leisure operators are sure to follow. I am confident that we will hear further positive announcements in the near future."
Tracey Lee, managing director of Newport City Council, said:
"This news is extremely welcome. As the main anchor store, Debenhams is a key part of the Friars Walk scheme.
"Debenhams has been on Newport’s wish list for many years and we are delighted that the company believes the city is a good location for its business. It is now expected that other retailers will follow its lead and sign up for this exciting shopping and leisure opportunity.
"Our development partner Queensberry Real Estate is making excellent progress with Friars Walk and it is anticipated that work will start on site next year."
The regeneration of Newport’s retail core is just one of a number of projects that is being facilitated by Newport City Council, in conjunction with its partners Newport Unlimited and the Welsh Government, to transform Newport into a thriving and successful city, acting as an economic driver for south east Wales.
By 2020, it is hoped that the regeneration programme will have created 12,000 new jobs, generated £0.8 billion of private investment, completed 3,000 new homes and created one million square feet of new office floor space.