Interview with Mary Portas: Opportunities for Independents

Retail expert Mary Portas, widely acknowledged as a leading authority on the sector, has advised government, transformed Harvey Nichols, and has produced a host of retail and business-themed TV programmes.

A determined, passionate advocate of British retail, Mary is at the forefront of making the nation better consumers and the country’s shops better businesses. Her career started on the shop floor, rising through the ranks of John Lewis, Harrods and the Burton Group before being appointed Creative Director at Harvey Nichols. With the aid of cutting edge artists, designers, and a TV show called Absolutely Fabulous, Mary turned the store 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, Oasis Stores, Mercedes-Benz, and Boden.

On television, Mary has presented on both BBC One, BBC2 and Channel 4. In Secret Shopper, she went undercover in some of the nation’s biggest retailers to expose the lack of customer service culture. In Mary, Queen of Shops she helped turn around struggling small retail businesses. She has also 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 is the author of How to Shop with Mary Queen of Shops, a book instructing readers on how to shop more efficiently, and also Windows: The Art of Retail Display. She has founded two retail consultancies working with both luxury and high street brands, and has launched her own fashion and footwear brands, and shop within House of Fraser. Mary also led an independent Government review into the regeneration of the high street.