THE NEWS of Wales' biggest brewery announcing the closure of their Newport city centre bar has sent waves across Gwent.

Tiny Rebel, a popular chain with branches in Rogerstone and Cardiff Bay, opened its Newport city centre branch in 2015 and has served customers for nine years.

A spokesperson for Tiny Rebel listed "decreasing footfall and rising operating costs" as reasons for the looming closure, set to take place on Sunday, March 31, 2024.

South Wales Argus: Newport's Tiny Rebel has been open for nine years.Newport's Tiny Rebel has been open for nine years. (Image: File)

The spokesperson added: "Since the pandemic, Newport City Centre has been slowly imploding, with retail and hospitality suffering the worst of it.

"Footfall has been decreasing, operating costs have increased significantly and the hospitality sector has had limited support from the government."

Council left 'disappointed'

A spokesperson for Newport City Council said they were "disappointed that the company has decided to close its High Street venue and that it has not contacted the council to discuss its situation before making this announcement.

"The council, along with the Welsh government, has been supporting the hospitality sector with a business rates reduction scheme and that will continue next year. A range of businesses have benefitted from these schemes which can provide up to 100 per cent rate relief."

South Wales Argus: Newport Council has been left 'disappointed' by the news of the closureNewport Council has been left 'disappointed' by the news of the closure (Image: File)

Newport City Council also said they believe the High Street to be "busier now than it has been for several years."

The council said people are "attracted" to the vibrance of the city, "redeveloped market, fantastic music venues and pubs". The council said "this weekend saw the opening of another brilliant new venture, The Corn Exchange."

City centre 'slowly imploding'

Residents and businesses are vocal about the lack of footfall and rising living costs in Newport City Centre which led to Tiny Rebel announcing the closure of its Newport base.

One Facebook user said: "All well and good being busy on a Friday & Saturday, but there are very few people in there at other times."

A spokesman for Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID), which represents more than 600 business in the city centre and riverfront area, said:

"It is hugely disappointing to see that Tiny Rebel has decided to close its city centre bar. The brewery is a Newport success story and the High Street bar has traded successfully since being launched as a pop-up nine years ago.

South Wales Argus: The Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) began operations in 2015 after a ballot of city centre businesses in 2014.The Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID) began operations in 2015 after a ballot of city centre businesses in 2014. (Image: File)

"The area around Tiny Rebel has been transformed in recent years by the redevelopment of Newport Market and the refurbishment of Newport Arcade under new private owners, and we would take issue somewhat with the suggestion that the city centre has been 'imploding' in recent years."

This echoes what Newport City Council said when they mentioned the "hundreds of people" who visited other businesses around The Corn Exchange when the visited the High Street venue at the opening weekend.

Challenges business owners face in Newport

According to a BiD spokesperson, traditional high streets are having to contend with "internet shopping, the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic and other factors, and the UK-wide closures of major chain stores. The hospitality sector, in particular, is in crisis across the UK.

"The BID recognises the difficult trading difficulties faced by many of our members, which is why we continue to organise and fund events that increase footfall, and deliver projects such as our savings advisory service - which has identified energy, telecoms and other savings worth more than £100,000 to city centre businesses over the last two years - and shopfront improvement grants."

BiD claim that footfall in the city centre in 2023 improved by 32% compared to 2022. It also said footfall was "up almost 6% against the last full pre-Covid year of 2019 - a better performance than the Welsh and UK averages."

Responding to the news of the bar closure on Tuesday (March 5), Tom Giffard MS, Shadow Minister for Culture Tourism and Sport, said: "It’s a damning indictment of Labour’s hospitality policies that one of Wales’ greatest recent success stories is having to scale back its presence in Newport.

“Tiny Rebel is a fantastic business, with a range of popular products that are seen in bars and pubs across the UK. The fact that a brand of this scale is struggling within the Welsh economy is frankly terrifying.

“Unless Labour puts in place a real strategy to keep our hospitality industry vibrant and thriving, we will find more businesses like Tiny Rebel unable to keep their doors open.”

Many have been left "devastated" by the news, others "baffled", and a few wondering if this will have a knock-on effect to other branches of Tiny Rebel.