NEWPORT’s oldest high street department store is having a makeover, in a move bosses say demonstrates its loyalty to the city it serves.

In May, Wildings department store which has traded in Newport since 1874, is undertaking a £140,000 store refurbishment as part of a rebranding exercise for the family-owned business. This is despite a fall in sales in recent years.

Peter James, managing director of the Wildings Group since 1995, said: “The level of trade has been dire since 2006. We’ve had year on year decreases in sales, so we had a business decision to make.”

But instead of giving up on Newport the business – who owns the property on Commercial Street – have decided to be optimistic in light of the upcoming opening of Admiral and the new shopping development in the city centre.

Mr James, whose father was director before him, said: “We have got a proud history of trading in Newport. We’ll give it one last shot, so that if we have to close we can say to ourselves we did all we could.”

The department store – which was the first shop in Newport to have electricity- will be closing for two to three weeks for a new shop front and complete refurbishment of the ground and first floors. The cafe area will also be extended and new brands are being added to the fashion department.

But before they can close, the store has to clear £380,000 worth of stock.

“We are having a massive refurbishment clearance sale,” said Mr James. There will be half price and 70 per cent reductions on items throughout all departments.

The sale will be open to the public from Friday April 11 and will end three weeks later. The new-look store will open in May.

Mr James said: “There are not enough reasons to come into town. We hope we will be a reason for local shoppers to come back into the town.”

The Wildings Group have four stores in total, with other shops in Cardiff , Bath and Thornbury.