The 390,000-sq ft city centre retail and leisure scheme, designed by Leslie Jones Architecture, opened 85 per cent let with 25 stores, six restaurants and an eight-screen Cineworld cinema trading.
A 90,000-sq ft full-offer Debenhams anchors the scheme along with 20,000-sq ft stores for both H&M and Next, while other tenants include Topshop, New Look, River Island and Mothercare and restaurant operators Prezzo, Nando’s, Wagamama and GBK.
Paul Sargent, chief executive and co-founder of developer Queensberry Real Estate said: “Friars Walk has turned around the retail and leisure offer in Newport, not only by attracting new brands to the scheme itself but by enticing occupiers back into the existing retail core. The unlocking of Friars Walk has generated £90m of direct investment into the local economy, while supporting the job market through the preferred use of local supply chains - ensuring the city’s future as a major employment hub.”
The £117m centre is estimated to double retail sales in the city, adding £120m per annum, with Newport’s catchment predicted to increase from 211,000 to 367,000 with an estimated footfall of 10-12 million.
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.
Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “This is a momentous day for the city, its residents and businesses. The day we see our vision becoming a reality.
“Friars Walk is an exemplar for partnership working between the public and private sector and it has proved a catalyst for investment in the city centre. We are seeing a renaissance with new and returning businesses opening both in Friars Walk and the wider city centre. These will contribute millions of pounds to the local economy bringing far-reaching benefits for all those who live in, work in and visit Newport for many years to come.”
Sargent added: “A forward-thinking public-private partnership helped to unlock Friars Walk - an approach that is continuing to prove fundamental across the UK’s towns and cities. Local authorities have the statuary powers and other land resources required to make development possible. However, for a scheme to be truly successful it must be combined with the industry’s ‘finger on the pulse’ understanding of retailer demands and consumer trends, as well as the delivery experience to get it off the ground.”
Lettings agents for Friars Walk are Lunson Mitchenall, Cooke & Arkwright, Nick Young & Co and CBRE.