NEWPORT’S politicians and leading business figures have praised the news that the city's landmark Debenhams store will stay open after an agreement over business rates with the council.

Debenhams is not eligible for Non-Domestic Rates relief due to a decision by the Welsh Government to place a cap on the scheme, meaning businesses with a rateable value of more than £500,000 do not comply.

Although Debenhams chairman Mark Gifford has previously said its Welsh stores would not re-open unless the cap - which is not in place in England - is scrapped, the Welsh Government has refused to do so. The Newport store has a rateable value of £510,000.

After an announcement on Friday from Newport City Council that it had agreed to defer the company’s rates until the end of the financial year, allowing the company to remain operating at Friars Walk, politicians and business leaders have reacted to the news.

Newport West MS (Member of the Senedd) Jayne Bryant said: “This is really positive news for our city centre, customers and for the loyal staff who worked in the store.

“I am pleased that the council has been able to work closely with Debenhams to find a way forward in such challenging times.”


John Griffiths, MS for Newport East, said: “I am very pleased to hear our Labour council has been able to work with Debenhams and come up with a practical solution in order for them to retain the store in the city. 

“As I’ve said previously - having a store of this size is critical to the footfall in that part of the city. I know today’s announcement will be welcomed by the other smaller and medium-sized traders at Friars Walk Shopping Centre.”

Cllr Matthew Evans, leader of Newport’s Conservative group, said: “It’s what we’ve all been working so hard towards. We spent a huge amount of time and effort getting Debenhams here, and it’s vital we have it in the future.”

Managing director of Newport Now Business Improvement District Kevin Ward echoed the messages, saying: “The BID has now been lobbying Welsh Government, Newport City Council and our local MSs and MPs for the last three weeks when it emerged Debenhams could close its main Welsh stores after being denied access to the rates relief available elsewhere in the UK.

“We are delighted an agreement between the company and the council has secured the immediate future of the Newport store.

“The BID would like to thank the council and its leader Cllr Jane Midd for listening to our concerns and responding quickly and decisively. While our city is much more than Debenhams, it would be much less without them.”