A CROWD applauded outside Newport's oldest department store yesterday as it reopened following a £140,000 refurbishment.

Staff were served prosecco, canapés and Buck’s Fizz upstairs before Newport West MP Paul Flynn cut a sea-blue ribbon to proudly declare the store, which has traded in Newport since 1874, open again.

Shoppers were then invited in so that they could finally browse the new stock and the shop's makeover.

Mr Flynn said: “This is a great day for Newport. We have had some difficult times recently. The revival of Newport’s fortunes starts here.

"Wildings is Newport’s store. It’s as Newport as the Transporter Bridge, as Welsh baseball, as the Chartists. Here since 1874, it’s not a here today, gone tomorrow store like some.”

Wildings workers cheered as Mr Flynn MP praised the “wonderful choice, good value and friendly staff” before declaring: “It’s a great pleasure to open the new Wildings”.

Managing director Peter James said: “We’re hoping that this is some good news for Newport and is the start of the regeneration of the city centre. It’s going to be a long, hard road. I would implore the local authority to speak and work with the traders. The traders are the ones who have the intimate knowledge of what the Newport shopper wants. If those needs are going to be met, people within a 10 to 15 minute drive time are going to start coming back into the city centre. It will be as a result of meeting those needs.

“Thank you so much for all the hard work everyone has put in. Let’s hope we get a return on it.”

One shopper, Jacqui Dimery, from Allt-yr-yn, said she has shopped in Wildings for around 60 years. She said “I just think it looks amazing.”

Sharon Taylor, from Beechwood, works on the tills in Wildings and has been with the store for nine years.

She said: “I just hope it does really well because they deserve it, putting all the money into the shop.

“We’re hoping with Admiral coming and Debenhams and a few others, people will start coming back to the centre.”

Ann-Marie James, a director of Wildings, said: “Everybody you meet in Newport has a story to tell about Wildings. Mine is it used to be where I got my school uniform and have tantrums. I got my first long dress here too. It’s great to see it having a revamp.”