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A G Meek, one of the longest established independent footwear retailers in the south Wales area, which celebrates its centenary this year, has acquired new premises at 3-4 Llanarth Street in Newport in a relocation from Upper Dock Street, securing seven jobs. Currently it employs around 30 people at its stores in Cardiff, Newport and Gloucester.  “The new shop has a much bigger frontage, which we need to display the wide variety of footwear that we sell,” said owner David Meek. “It’s also well located.  Newport city centre has suffered very badly in recent years but we are hopeful that the announcement that Debenhams will anchor the newly launched Friars Walk scheme will be a catalyst for better fortunes for the city centre.”

The retailer’s existing shop in Upper Dock Street was intended to be a temporary location during the construction of the Friars Walk scheme. The original development was scrapped in June 2009 as the credit crunch took hold and then relaunched in December 2010. A 93,000 sq ft Debenhams was confirmed as the flagship store in April this year and plans include 35 retail units, an eight-screen Cineworld cinema and up to 10 restaurants and cafes. The new developers, Queensberry Real Estate, say that the £100m scheme, due to open in 2015, is ‘more deliverable’ and will create 1,100 new jobs.

Huw Thomas, Director in charge of Retail at Cooke & Arkwright, who acted on behalf of the private landlord said, “A G Meek’s new premises in Llanarth Street are in a much more prominent location. The street is a popular ‘cut-through’ for shoppers walking from Commercial Street towards where the new Friars Walk development is going to be, as well as the main entrance into the Kingsway Shopping Centre.  When the proposed new Debenhams is built, Llanarth Street will become a principal route to the store from Commercial Street.”

James Henton, Director of Deri Investments Ltd, speaking on behalf of the landlord commented, “We are absolutely delighted to have secured A G Meek as a long term tenant at these premises. The negotiation has required considerable compromise from both parties. We wish A G Meek every continued success and we are sure that this prestigious tenant will provide a new dimension to the shopping experience in Newport city centre.”

A G Meek was founded in Albany Road, Cardiff in 1912 by Mr Meek’s grandfather Albert George Meek, with a second shop opening in the city centre in the early 1920s and a third in Newport in the mid ‘20s.  However, Mr Meek said that high business rates have had a direct effect on any expansion plans in the present day.

“I have had plans to open a further two shops for some years,” he said.  “In the good times I couldn’t find suitable property at a viable rent. Now rents have dropped to more realistic levels but business rates present a major barrier to expansion.”

Business rates are currently under review by the Welsh Government.

Pictured: William Henton and James Henton of Deri Investments Ltd and Hentons ; David Meek of A G Meek and Huw Thomas, Cooke & Arkwright
3-4 Llanarth Street Pic

In a deal brokered by Cooke & Arkwright, Cardiff University has leased almost 14,500 sq ft at Deri House in Park Grove, Cardiff. The university is to move three of its administrative divisions to the new premises from their existing accommodation at various sites in Park Place.

The Public Relations & Communications, the International Development and the Development & Alumni Relations Divisions are to relocate along with 130 staff in a rationalisation of their services. The three divisions already work closely together and will be brought under one roof at Deri House. A full refurbishment and fit out is being carried out by the landlord, Deri Holdings Limited.

Sandra Elliott, Director of the International Development Division at Cardiff University said, “The new premises allow us to consolidate the three divisions at the same time as releasing space in the University at Park Place, where we are expanding our research centres in the School of Social Sciences, and to provide more space for our Information Services Division.”
Deri House became vacant after the previous occupier, the Wales Audit Office, amalgamated two of its offices and relocated to Cathedral Road. Andrew Gardner of Cooke & Arkwright said, “Deri House was convenient for the University as it is close to its other buildings in Park Place and fits within its portfolio footprint of around 300 buildings, spread between Newport Road and the University Hospital of Wales. The property needed upgrading and adapting to suit the University and we enjoyed a positive rapport with the landlord Deri Holdings to achieve this. Work is well under way and is expected to take five months.”

James Henton for the landlord said, “We are very pleased to have secured the University as a replacement tenant so soon after Wales Audit Office’s leases ended. We feel that the works currently being carried out will ensure that the building suits their operational needs well into the future.”

Cooke & Arkwright brokered the new lease jointly with Henton’s Commercial who advised the landlord.

Pictured, l to r: Sandra Elliott, Dir International Development Division, Cardiff University; Andrew Gardner, Cooke & Arkwright; James Henton and William Henton, Hentons Commercial; Jim Atkinson, Cardiff University Estates.