Posted: Thu 7th Mar 2024

Tiny Rebel’s Departure from Newport High Street Sparks Uncertainty /

The shock departure of Tiny Rebel from Newport’s High Street has opened fresh uncertainty over the future of the city centre.
The Rogerstone-based brewer announced on Tuesday (March 5) that “with a heavy heart” it would shut down its city centre bar at the end of March.
But within its announcement was a stinging criticism of “slowly imploding” business conditions in Newport city centre, including a drop in footfall.
Tiny Rebel’s comments came just days after the city council leader announced the imminent launch of a new placemaking plan to regenerate central Newport, and the renewal of a business rates relief scheme for traders in the same sectors the brewer had cited.
In its statement, Tiny Rebel said it had over 18 months “worked tirelessly to keep the bar financially viable, but it has got to a point where we have had to make some difficult decisions to ensure the future of the business”.
The firm’s operations in Rogerstone and Cardiff will continue.
Although Tiny Rebel did criticise the “limited support from the government”, it pulled no punches when commenting on the trading conditions in Newport.
“Since the pandemic, Newport city centre has been slowly imploding, with retail and hospitality suffering the worst,” the Tiny Rebel statement read. “Footfall has been decreasing, operating costs have increased significantly and the hospitality sector has had limited support from the government.
“Unfortunately, our Tiny Rebel bar on Newport High Street has been a casualty of these factors.”
Newport City Council has challenged this outlook, with a spokesperson telling the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) those at the authority “do not recognise the description given of the city centre, and believe High Street to be busier now than it has been for several years”.
The new transformation of the Corn Exchange building as a “brilliant” music venue, and the recent work to convert the indoor market into a food court and office and events space are both testament to an upward trend in the city centre’s fortunes – as are events like the annual food festival, the council said.
Tiny Rebel’s decision to leave High Street was “disappointing”, the council spokesperson added, explaining the authority runs its own rates relief scheme for city-centre retail, hospitality and leisure traders, providing up to 25% discounts for those available.
The Welsh Government has also recently renewed its business rates relief scheme which gives those eligible reductions of 40%, up to £110,000 – but this was 75% last year.
Research by trade body UK Hospitality has warned one in six (17%) of Wales’ licensed hospitality venues have closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, slightly higher than England or Scotland.
Newport Council opposition leader Matthew Evans has called on the authority to offer Tiny Rebel support.
He told the LDRS Newport city centre had “enormous unfilled potential” and “could understand why” residents didn’t share the council’s optimism.
“We simply cannot afford to lose independent traders in the city,” Cllr Evans added, calling for more help for Welsh businesses.
The closure of the Tiny Rebel pub on March 31 could leave a prominent high street premises empty, and landlords LoftCo – which run Newport Market next door – told the LDRS it “remains committed to creating vibrant and dynamic spaces”.
The firm already has “a promising shortlist” for the “coveted venue”, and although plans have not yet been finalised LoftCo would ensure any occupier is “the perfect fit for the market”.
LoftCo has “the full support” of the city council and the market had in the past three months “experienced its busiest period, in terms of hospitality, since its inception”, a spokesperson for the firm added. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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