Festive shoppers smash sales expectations at Newport’s Friars Walk, Queensberry Real Estate reports

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Friars Walk, Newport’s brand new retail and leisure destination owned by Queensberry Real Estate, smashed its visitor target by 10% over the Bank Holiday weekend. 40,000 shoppers visited on Boxing Day alone, with a host of leading retail names reporting record pre and post festive sales figures. The car park also traded well with 20% more users than expected.

The Friars Walk figures were reflective of strong trade across the country, Paul Sargent, CEO and co-founder of retail development firm, Queensberry Real Estate, said: “Trading figures were particularly strong at towns and cities that have benefited from significant retail-led investment in the last 12 months, such as Newport. We saw 10% more footfall than forecast at Friars Walk development, where shoppers are keen to take advantage of the offers in recently opened stores. While online figures will no doubt be strong, consumers are clearly voting with their feet for a full retail experience, where they can grab a bargain and a bite to eat as well as catching a film – giving a much needed boost to our high streets and shopping centres ahead of the New Year.

Friars Walk’s restaurants, including Le Bistrot Pierre, Prezzo, Nando’s, Wagamama and GBK continued to trade well throughout the period with pre-booking still required at peak time. This has been boosted by Newport Gwent Dragons and Newport City home games at the nearby Newport Stadium, while the cinema has drawn evening trade to the city centre. As a result, many of the restaurants have reporting trading figures 30% above target.

Rob Beacham, co-owner for Le Bistrot Pierre, said: “After Newport’s Le Bistrot Pierre recorded its most successful opening to date in November, the number of covers have remained consistently strong. Lunch time is particularly busy and plenty of families are visiting to take advantage of Menu Enfant. We have exceeded our covers target by 55 per cent and our food sales target by 72%. We’re already building a loyal customer base having received 62 reviews on Tripadvisor with 56 being ‘excellent’. Trading in the region remains strong and December is set to be one of our busiest to date as it’s the first time Le Bistrot Pierre has opened on Christmas Day.”

Friars Walk opened to the public on 12 November with 25 of the stores, six of the restaurants and the eight screen Cineworld multiplex cinema trading. The centre is anchored by H&M and Next, both 20,000sq ft stores, and a 90,000 sq ft full offer Debenhams Department Store.

As one of only a few new shopping centres to launch in the UK this year, the £117m scheme is already providing the basis of the wider regeneration in Newport. The 390,000sq 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 £120m per annum and overall, Newport’s catchment is predicted to increase from 211,000 to 367,000 with an estimated footfall of 10-12m per annum (Source: Javelin/DTZ).

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 £15m a year in salaries to the local economy.