TK Maxx is one of the retailers interested in taking space at Newport's Friars Walk development, according to centre manager Simon Pullen.

Mr Pullen, responding to rumours in the city that TK Maxx could be moving to the development, said: "It is true that we have been in discussions with a number of retailers for space at Friars Walk and yes TK Maxx has been one of them. As with other interest we hope to come to you very soon with news about exciting new tenants.

"There are, as always a number of discussions going on with a number of local and national retailers for space at both Friars Walk and the Kingsway. As an industry, leasing tends to be slow from deals being signed in the first quarter of the year but we expect this to ramp up now and hope to announce new retailers very soon."

Mr Pullen said footfall at the shopping and leisure development was contining to be strong, in line with expectations.

He said: "They reflect a positive year-on-year uplift, bearing in mind we are up against a very successful opening period that carried through much of the first quarter of 2016.

"I can’t believe we are in our second year already. The majority of people whether local to Newport or the wider area love what Friars Walk has brought to the city and also the new retailers, restaurants and leisure venues the we now have.

"We recently carried out extensive customer research of Friars Walk and achieved one of the highest satisfaction scores within the UK.

"If there are clear and specific things that people aren’t happy with, we are happy to look at and where possible try and look at solutions or alternatives if related to something that is within our control."

Mr Pullen, who said there was no update on the prospective sale of the £110m development, said: "We need to work as a complete city to make Newport successful.

"Despite the views of many, Friars Walk was never going to solve Newport’s problems but to be another foot on the ladder to it becoming a competing city centre. There have been a lot of great things done already that have made a difference to the city and people’s perception of the city but there is still a long way to go and only through partnership working will this be achieved.

Mr Pullen said there were a number of activities and events planned for the coming year to help further boost visitor numbers.

"We are currently running a free parking campaign on a Sunday, which we are trialling to encourage people to visit the city centre on Sundays. We also have a local food and craft market running on the first Sunday of the month, the next one is April 2.

"We focus on family-related activities such as craft workshops, balloon modelling, face painting through to larger events such as the Big Splash, which we are sponsoring again this year and the food festival.

"We will also be introducing our ‘summer lawn’ in Usk Plaza which features family favourite games such as giant Connect 4, Jenga, Snakes and Ladders to encourage visitors to stay and play.

"It’s imperative that all partners in the city are involved in all events. We are all more powerful when we combine resources and try and limit duplication. Events are bigger, better and attract more people when we all work together, albeit specific events for specific venues still have their place and add to the diversity of a location."

Mr Pullen, speaking about the closure of Frankie and Benny’s, said: "It’s always sad and disappointing when any tenant decides to close their premises and leave a scheme but this is something that was out of our control. We are working closely with their agents to find a new tenant for this great and prominent space and hope to have some positive news very soon. There has been a lot of interest already from local and national operators so hope it won’t be empty for long."

He said: "Occasions have closed their unit under the premise of a stocktake and this is all the information we have at this time. We are trying to work with the Occasions to understand their reasoning for the closure. It’s a great unit in a prime location and one that needs to be trading."