Newport retail centre, Friars Walk, set to open in November 2015 and signs up H&M

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Friars Walk, the new 390,000sq ft retail and leisure destination in Newport, South Wales, being developed by Queensberry Real Estate is to launch in November 2015, it is announced today; as international retailer H&M plus two new food operators, Bistrot Pierre and Las Iguanas, sign up to sites.

Covering almost 20,000sq ft, the new H&M store will offer a range of clothing and accessories for ladies, men and children. H&M joins other major retailers who are either making their debut or returning to Newport, including Debenhams, Next, Topshop and most recently New Look.

Taking a 3,922sq ft unit and making its debut in the city, Bistrot Pierre embraces French culture and the love of good food, offering great value, authentic, bistrot dishes freshly made by its chefs every day using carefully selected ingredients from local and artisan French suppliers. The bistrots combine consistently good service, quality French surroundings and a warm, vibrant atmosphere.

Major national restaurant group Las Iguanas has taken a 4,000sq ft space which will become the 40th outlet in the UK and the group’s first in Newport. All Las Iguanas restaurants are unique and individual, offering fresh and authentic Latin South American cuisine. Having started with a small restaurant in Bristol in 1991, the brand remains independent and is now one of the most popular restaurants on the UK high street with overseas expansion plans in the pipeline.

“2014 has been another great year for us,” said Rob Beacham, co-founder of Bistrot Pierre. “With our Cardiff bistrot newly opened we focused our attention on the new Abbey Sands development in Torquay and opened there in September.  To now be able to announce a Newport opening next year is a great culmination to 2014.

“We have spent years creating a restaurant brand that is firmly focused on great value French dining and good food. We are very proud that this combination has proved to be the right mix and that it has enabled us to get where we are now.”

Commenting on the compelling opportunity afforded by Friars Walk, Beacham said: “What drew me to Newport was very much the development of Friars Walk and the location of the site we have secured within it. On further research into the city, it became apparent that Newport currently has a limited offering from the leisure sector but there is strong local demand.

“The location of Friars Walk in relation to the theatre, the university and other civic buildings increased the appeal along with being one of the first in. It will be our first site within a shopping centre complex and we are really excited about welcoming customers to our restaurant in this environment. We are near theatres, shopping and cinemas in our Nottingham bistrot and do very well, we sincerely hope that we will have the same appeal and enjoy similar success in Newport.”

Mos Shamel, Las Iguanas’ managing director, said: “The transformation of Newport is already well underway and we are excited by the opportunity presented by this scheme. We already have two highly successful restaurants in Cardiff and with plans to also open in Swansea next spring, our new Friars Walk restaurant will be another fantastic addition to the growing Las Iguanas portfolio.”

Stuart Harris, commercial director and co-founder at Queensberry Real Estate, said: “These restaurants are the perfect fit for the vibrant, great value food offer we are creating at Friars Walk. Their respective brand ethos’ and individual characteristics are completely in sync with the emerging trend in British dining culture, and in line with our vision for Friars Walk.

“With an estimated catchment of 411,000, double the existing levels, and spend per capita expected to be the highest in Wales upon completion of Friars Walk, we are creating a thriving retail and leisure offer which will contribute to the city’s growing economy throughout the day and well into the evening.”

The signings add to the compelling food and leisure offer already confirmed, including Prezzo, Frankie & Benny’s, GBK and Nandos alongside an eight-screen Cineworld multiplex cinema.

Construction is continuing apace, with the Topping Out ceremony of the Debenhams department store scheduled for next month. The scheme is currently 60% let and Friars Walk is set to be one of the most significant retail openings in the UK in 2015.