MORE new companies were set up in Gwent in the second quarter of the year than in the same period in all previous years on record, new figures show.

Information registered with Companies House shows 261 companies were set up within the NP postcode area between April and June this year.

They included finance companies, letting agents, a courier service and a music shop.

The number beat the city’s previous record of 250 in the second quarter of 2003.

Company formation experts Duport, say this is a promising sign in the face of a difficult economic climate.

It suggests the record quarter could be down to the regeneration of the city over the past decade, which has seen the redevelopment of the Riverfront, the railway station and the forthcoming multimillion development of John Frost Square, which will see a shopping and leisure complex called Friars Walk built.

It also credits the increase in headquarters of high profile organisations such as the British Red Cross and the Office of National Statistics.

Newport is also ranked the third best city in the UK for office locations outside London, which it says appeals to new businesses.

Peter Valaitis, managing director of Duport, said: "Newport has a broad economic base that has helped to weather the economic storm in recent years. The record level of company formation in quarter two this years is a promising sign for future growth."

Ken Ellis, chairman of Newport Chamber of Trade, said: "I'm slightly surprised at that number but obviously new businesses opening up are very very welcome, particularly because a lot of independent businesses are closing down or hanging on by the skin of their teeth at the moment."