Mary Portas

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Retail & Shopping Expert

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Synopsis

Mary is one of the UK’s leading voices on retail and brand communication. Her proposals to rejuvenate the high street have sparked debate and influenced policy at a local level. In presentations Mary picks up on the changes in consumer behaviour as a result of the economy, the digital revolution and efforts to protect the environment. With critical insight, she examines how different retail sectors are responding and how brands of all types can best stand out.

Biography

Retail expert Mary Portas has advised government, transformed both luxury and high street stores, written books and produced a host of retail and business-themed TV programmes. The Chief Creative Officer of her own retail consultancy, and author of Work Like a Woman: A Manifesto For Change, she delivers an inspiring message of how businesses and individuals can adapt, transform and lead.

A determined, passionate advocate for British retail, Mary is at the forefront of making the nation better consumers and the country’s shops better businesses. Starting her career the shop floor, she rose through the ranks of retail giants John Lewis, Harrods and TopShop. She was then appointed Creative Director at the struggling Harvey Nichols store. With the aid of cutting edge artists, designers, and a TV show called Absolutely Fabulous, Mary turned it into a retail powerhouse and was on the board of the company by the age of 30. She has since worked with some of the world’s premier retail and product brands including Westfield, Clark's, Dunhill, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes-Benz, Estée Lauder and Boden.

Mary’s style and insight saw her combine advising retailers with a television career. Her breakthrough, BBC Two’s Mary, Queen of Shops saw her help turnaround struggling small retail businesses. In Channel 4’s Secret Shopper, she went undercover in some of the nation’s biggest retailers to expose poor customer service. She’s since fronted series on charity shops, fashion, manufacturing, and her efforts to rejuvenate the high street. She’s also looked at retail and product trends in What Britain Buys and the lack of choice for older shoppers.

In speeches Mary discusses the changes in consumer behaviour as a result of the economy, the digital revolution and efforts to protect the environment. With critical insight, she examines how different retail sectors are responding and how brands of all shapes and sizes can best stand out. She also looks at the mistakes retailers make, and how to fix them.

Mary’s high profile government review into struggling British high streets led to the creation of pilot regeneration projects around the UK and a new focus on what town centres are for and their place in social and business life. Mary is also the author of books including How to Shop with Mary Queen of Shops, Windows: The Art of Retail Display and her memoir Shop Girl. She has founded two retail consultancies working with both luxury and high street brands, and has launched her own fashion and footwear brands. She also founded the charity shop Mary’s Living and Giving, which went on to open 25 stores and raise millions for Save The Children.

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Video

British Franchise Association Conference