THE HMV store in Newport city centre closed yesterday after a busy final day's trading in which shoppers could pick up selected items at up to 80 per cent off the recommended price.

Even fixtures and fittings were on sale on a day that brought the entertainment retailer's tenure on the city's Commercial Street to an end after more than a decade.

Closure also brought the end of a topsy-turvy year for staff at the store. They, along with hundreds of other HMV staff across the UK, had first faced the prospect of losing their jobs early last year, after the company - which at the time had more than 200 stores - went into administration.

But the Newport store and scores of others nationwide were saved by retail restructuring firm Hilco UK.

Trading continued, but last month it was announced that the Newport store was among several set to close. Others included a flagship technology store in Islington in London, and shops in Kettering, Leamington Spa, and on the Isle of Wight.

Hilco UK was unavailable for comment today and has previously refused to reveal the reasons for the Newport closure, though there have been unconfirmed reports that the issue of rent is involved.

The closure is yet another retailing blow for Newport city centre. A city council spokesman called it "disappointing" but added:

"This decision taken by HMV will be a commercial one, and although the council is doing everything in its power to regenerate the city centre, it has no control or influence over the level of rents being charged by private commercial landlords.

"If HMV is interested in another location in the city centre, we will help to put them in touch with contacts, which could include Queensberry, the developers of the Friars Walk leisure and retail scheme which is due to open next year."