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Excitement builds with less than three months until opening of city's new £100m shopping centre

Mall May 2015.jpg

About 1,200 jobs will be created once the Friars Walk centre, in Newport, opens in November.

A plush new shopping centre which is now less than three months away from being opened will transform a Welsh city, supporters say.

Backers of the £100m Friars Walk project believe it will transform Newport into a prime destination for shoppers – as well as proving to be a boon for local independent shops.

Last week it was announced terms had been agreed on 80% of space at the centre, with sports shop JD and doughnut retailer Krispy Kreme among five more brands to get on board. And Jon Powell, who runs @TheNewsagent, said he was “very excited” at the prospect of the centre opening.

He admitted it might mean extra competition, but added:

“I am a big advocate of small and independent businesses, but for us to survive and thrive we need the big boys here as well.

“They may well put a newspaper or magazine shop in there, but I also need a lot more people to come into the city centre.”

Council leader Bob Bright said he was pleased with the shops which had signed up for Friars Walk, adding:

“This is more good news for Newport and the city centre and the excitement as we get closer to the opening day in November is tangible.”

Other brands which have already been signed up include fashion favourites Debenhams, H&M and Topshop. An eight-screen cinema and restaurants are also part of the scheme.

And city councillor Chris Evans said the initiative was a big moment for the development of Newport and came after “so many false dawns”, including a previous project which had to be abandoned at the onset of the financial crash.

He added:

“This is another of the strands which will all come together to push Newport as a leading city in the 21st century.”

Coun Evans said it would mean Newport would become a seven-days-a-week shopping destination for people in South-East Wales.

“You can’t shop in Newport on a Sunday at the moment, but Friars Walk will be open on a Sunday,”

he explained.

“What we need to do now is to encourage small, independent shops to open on a Sunday, so people who come to Friars Walk will also shop there.

“It will become a city you can shop in as well as a city you can live and work in.”

Queensberry estimates the £100m scheme will provide 1,200 jobs, in addition to those created during the construction phase. Lead contractor, construction firm Bowmer Kirkland, also worked on projects including the St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff.