Sunday 24th Jan 2021

Newport City Council has agreed measures to assist Debenhams with its non-domestic rates for the rest of this financial year to give them time to conclude a rating review.

Unlike most city centre shops, Debenhams is not covered by the new Welsh Government retail, leisure and hospitality rate relief scheme.

The council recognises the additional burden that rates places on the company during the coronavirus emergency and, while it cannot cancel the charges, it has agreed measure to help manage the payments due this year.

The rating review could reduce its liability and enable Debenhams to access the Covid-19 retail rates relief support scheme in line with other retailers. The company has also been advised to apply to the Economic Resilience Fund.

Council leader Councillor Jane Mudd and senior officers have had constructive discussions with Debenhams this week in the relation to the company's concerns about business rates.

Mark Gifford, Debenhams Chairman, said: "'We are delighted to be able to confirm that Debenhams in Newport will reopen, and I'd like to place on record my thanks to Newport City Council for their support and constructive approach in our recent discussions. All retailers are facing great challenges as a result of COVID-19, but Newport is an important market for us and we look forward to welcoming our customers back to the store soon.'

Councillor Mudd said: "We have been working behind the scenes to find a solution to assist this key city centre store through this difficult trading period.

""Over recent weeks the council has distributed around £45 million to more than 2,000 businesses to help support them during this emergency."

"As a council, we have sought to reinvigorate the city centre through a comprehensive regeneration programme and developing a mix of uses.

"However, our retailers, both large and small, are a vital component of a vibrant city centre and I value all of them.

"The Covid-19 crisis has followed the recession and against a backdrop of increasing online shopping.

"But we know people still like to visit stores and shopping local is going to be an even more important message from now on.

"Following consultation with senior colleagues and officers, I have, therefore, agreed that we should use our powers to defer Debenhams' business rates until later on in the year while they conclude their current rating appeal. I very much hope that this will help them during this difficult time and they will remain in Newport to serve their loyal and new customers."