THERE is yet more bad news for Newport city centre after a major international clothing brand announced it was leaving.

Swedish-owned H&M will be closing its Commercial Street store by June 1.

A new store will open in Newport Retail Park, Spytty, during Spring 2013, a spokeswoman for the company said.

The firm did not respond to a query asking how many people worked at the store, or whether there would be any redundancies.

“Our ambition is to keep as many staff as possible where there are opportunities or potential opportunities within H&M,” a spokeswoman said.

She said the firm wants to be in the best “business location and sometimes over time this can change.”

“We look forward to the new store opening in 2013,”

she said.

H&M is the latest shop to quit the city centre.

Topshop announced it was not going to renew its lease last November, while Arcadia-owned clothing stores Dorothy Perkins and Burtons closed their stores in Commercial Street last year.

Marks and Spencer announced in October last year it was to relocate to Newport Retail Park, Spytty, which is expected to go ahead early next year, while 40- year-old music store GM Music moved to a retail unit inside Spytty Tesco due to falling city centre footfall.

The news comes after the recent news Debenhams has signed to be the anchor store of the m u l t i - m i l l i o n pound Friars Walk development set to transform John Frost Square.

Work on the scheme is expected to start next year and once completed it will include shops, a six-screen cinema and restaurants.

A Newport council spokeswoman said: “Newport City Council is disappointed with the decision by H&M to leave Newport’s city centre.

“The council and Newport Unlimited have made the city centre a priority.

“Anumber of initiatives have been introduced, such as the free parking offer and incentives for businesses opening up in the city centre, which are proving a great success.”

EDITORIAL COMMENT: ‘Devastating blow’ for city

FASHION company H&M’s decision to close its Newport city centre store is another devastating blow for the city.

Hot on the heels of the closure of Top Shop and following those of Dorothy Perkins, Burtons, Wallis and Next, the move will leave the city’s main shopping street in a pretty sorry state.

Newport is not alone in suffering such a fate as many town and city centres up and down the country have seen so many high street stores migrating to out of town retail centres. But the situation here does seem particularly acute.

On the one hand it is good that the brands are not being lost to Newport.

H&M, like so many others, has decided to relocate to the Spytty Retail Park which, as anyone who visits there will attest, is a great success story for shoppers.

But it does emphasise the dire straits facing our city centre. And amid all the recent exciting reports of the progress of plans for a new shopping centre for the heart of Newport, today’s news does act as a reality check.

Of course it is great news that work on the new Friars Walk development is going ahead.

And the fact that Debenhams has signed up to be the anchor store is hugely positive. Where it leads, others will follow.

Hopefully, as with the previous but ultimately unsuccessful development, it may well be that the high street favourites will want to be part of the new shopping centre when it is built in a few years’ time.

That said though, announcements like the one we are reporting today make it painfully obvious Newport City Centre has significant problems.

And H&M’s decision will just give shoppers one more reason not to visit.

What is equally apparent is that whoever wins next month’s local elections will have to make the city centre the number one priority.

The riverside developments including the university campus and countless new homes have made a real and attractive difference to Newport.

The focus now needs to be on creating a city centre where the people moving into those new homes will relish visiting the city centre.

How the problems can be solved will no doubt be the subject of much discussion in the weeks ahead.

But that Newport needs a shot in the arm is surely not up for debate.