BUSINESSES in Newport and the surrounding area are being offered the chance to win free retail space in the city centre.

Friars Walk has this week launched a competition, which would see local businesses benefit – in addition to filling some of the empty real estate space currently found at the shopping centre.

The winning business will be given a shop front within the centre, rent-free, for three months.

According to competition organisers, the hope is that those three months will prove to be successful, leading to the winners extending their stay longer term.

For any entrants who do not win, there is a decent consolation prize too.

Shortlisted entrants will be given an opportunity to trade in Friars Walk as part of the judging process – and though not all will prove successful, it will give a number of local businesses the chance to put themselves in the city centre shop window, in a literal sense.

The competition is open to businesses with an existing physical retail presence, or online retailers, looking to take the high street by storm.

To apply, entrants are required to provide a description of their business, what sets them apart, and why they think they will be a good fit for Friars Walk.

South Wales Argus: Shoppers inside Friars Walk - though many of the retailers pictured have since departedShoppers inside Friars Walk - though many of the retailers pictured have since departed

It has been revealed that the competition is being run by the centre itself, and Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID).

In recent months, the centre has seen some high profile casualties – including flagship department store Debenhams.

Doughnut giants Krispy Kreme, and footwear store Schuh have also recently departed.

But, with lockdown restrictions easing, and the weather improving, the centre has seen a steady flow of passers-by in recent weeks.

What have the organisers said?

Friars Walk centre director, Simon Pullen said: “We’re looking for innovative, interesting ideas from entrepreneurial individuals or organisations that want to take their businesses to the next level or get a great idea they have off the ground.

“Independent shops are a key part of the Newport community and we want to support them whenever possible.

“It could be an online retail business that would like to take its first steps in having a physical presence in a shopping centre or just a really exciting concept that needs space to get it off the ground. We’re open to a range of concepts and suggestions and can’t wait to see the entries.”

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Kevin Ward, BID manager, said: “One of the BID’s area of focus is expanding the independent sector in the city centre and making use of empty shop units, either with pop-ups or permanent tenants. We have had some success already with helping independent find retail space in the city centre and partnering with Friars Walk on this competition is part of that process.”

The deadline for applications is Wednesday, August 4, at midday, and more information can be found here.