Business networking returned to Newport for the first time since the Covid pandemic began when the City of Newport Business Club heard from the developer behind the regeneration of the city’s Victorian market.

More than 60 people attended the free event – the club’s first physical meeting since February last year.

Simon Baston, managing director of Loft Co, the developers of Newport Market, was the guest speaker at the event, which was held at the Coldra Court Hotel by Celtic Manor.

Loft Co specialises in regenerating historic buildings and landmarks into mixed-use facilities. Its previous regeneration projects include Goodsheds in Barry, the Jennings Building in Porthcawl, and Tramshed in Cardiff.

Mr Baston said the project was the biggest of its kind in Europe and would be home to more than 100 independent businesses when it opens in February.

These will include retail and lifestyle units, offices and a food quarter with 10 restaurants serving up some of the best street food in Wales.

Mr Baston said his family firm was ‘honoured’ to be the custodians of such an historic building, and praised both Newport City Council and Welsh Government for their support.

He said it was vital to the future of the city centre that Newport became a niche destination, and revealed plans to turn the historic vaults beneath the market into an ‘experience suite’ with activities ranging from yoga and pilates to an 80s-style video games arcade.

Part of the refurbished building will be an incubation centre for small business start-ups, creating a ‘cluster of sustainable and carbon-neutral businesses’ in the heart of Newport.

Mr Baston said he wanted Newport Market to be a community hub, and a ‘home’ for everyone in the city whether they were aged one or 100.

He said the new-look market building will be open seven days a week and play host to events catering for between 50 and 250 people, including conferences and weddings. The market’s first event will be staged on March 1 next year.

City of Newport Business Club chairman Professor Jonathan Deacon said: “It was fantastic to hear from Simon and everyone was impressed by his enthusiasm for Newport and commitment to playing his part in the continuing regeneration of the city centre.

“It was a great evening, with an excellent attendance, and people were just so pleased to be networking again after so many months of Zoom and Teams meetings.

“We are now working on our programme of events for 2022 and details will be on our website in the next few weeks.”

The City of Newport Business Club is sponsored by A2Z Computing, Celtic Manor Resort, Kymin Financial Planners, and Kevin Ward Media.

For more information about the club go to