MaryPortas.com

12 Dec 2011


Illustrations by Dermot Flynn

I want to put the heart back into the centre of our High Streets, re-imagined as destinations for socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity and learning. Places that will develop and sustain new and existing markets and businesses. The new High Streets won’t just be about selling goods. The mix will include shops but could also include housing, offices, sport, schools or other social, commercial and cultural enterprises and meeting places. They should become places where we go to engage with other people in our communities, where shopping is just one small part of a rich mix of activities.

High Streets must be ready to experiment, try new things, take risks and become destinations again. They need to be spaces and places that people want to be in. High Streets of the future must be a hub of the community that local people are proud of and want to protect.

My goal is to breathe economic and community life back into our High Streets and town centres. I want to see all our High Streets bustling with people, services, and jobs. They should be vibrant places that people choose to visit. They should be destinations. Anything less is a wasted opportunity.

Please read through my full report below, or click here for a summary of my 28 recommendations.

[gview file="http://www.maryportas.com/wp-content/uploads/The_Portas_Review.pdf" save="1" cache="0" force="1"]

Comments

I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment below.

655 Responses to “”

  1. Maureen Jeffrey says:

    Brilliant, Brilliant idea I support it completely and was so ready to order a pair in every colour and some for presents but where can I get them – nowhere ! I’m delighted that this must mean lots more people have decided to back this campaign but why is no one taking back orders I don’t care how long I have to wait surely having people on back order would show how many had to be made. This is’nt like the Mary I’ve come to know, get their attention, get them in and get their money not leave them waiting. My husband owns an engineering company – another british industry depleted by foreign imports – and thank god they are doing well but only because so many of their competitors have gone under, come everyone get behind this – no pun intended – I’d be proud to wear these if they ever let me order a pair!!!

  2. Willie says:

    Are you doing men’s underwear?

  3. Susan Finlay says:

    Well done, well done. Don’t give up – ever!! Your campaign to get us back to buying British must succeed. Name the firms who don’t (will not?) support your campaign/drive.

  4. Eve Weatherley says:

    I recently sent a letter to The Daily Telegraph congratulating Mary Portas on her project to reanimate manufacturing in this country through the production of an all British knicker. To my great disappointment, my letter was not published but instead the paper published a letter from a lady complaining that £10 for a pair of pants was far too expensive, irrespective of where the money might be going and the quality of the product she was buying.

    Myself, my daughters and grand-daughters, look forward immensely to buying the Kinky Knicker and wholeheartedly support you in this venture. May it encourage other businesses to give practical help to young people who desperately need every encouragement to engage with their communities.

  5. Good afternoon Mary,
    Market Trade News magazine are running a feature in the May and June issues of Market Trade News dedicated to the National Market Day. The magazine is free and is distributed to over 30,000 market traders by request. We work very closly with nabma and Graham Wilson will be supplying an article to lead into this feature. Of course we would also love an input from Mary Portas on this.

    Many thanks

    David

  6. I’m using some of these tips which are great!

  7. Joanna Thain says:

    Hi Mary,

    I received my order of the Ivory Kinky Knickers from Boots yesterday – however, being a size 16 I ordered the large size – as when I ordered my knickers last week that’s what Boots were advertising as the size!!! The Large size are in fact 18-20 – so too big for me :( and now I find that Boots have now actually corrected their website – however I now need to return my knickers back to a Boots store and request a refund – and now also wait until they have more stock, so I can get the right size. ARGHHH
    Having read a few of the blogs I see that there is a universal issue in relation to confusion about the actual sizes…
    Please, please, please make sure this is corrected with all your suppliers…

    Fab knickers though – and will be ordering the right size as soon as I can!

    Jo

  8. David Grant says:

    Hi Mary (or her PR team)

    So this is my story and what I think, I totally agree something needs to be done as it all failed me, we could not find any support for our business.. There is a reason why shops are empty it is down to the nature of the business and that the internet allows you to be specialised or niche without premises.

    I was made redundant as an IT consultant business analyst in 2007 as my job ended up going from Manchester to be done much cheaper in India by 5 others. I decided to set up my own business with just the £3k I had in my pocket.. Now 5 years later I employ 3 people and have gone limited, we have over 50 different products, designed, manufactured, retailed all online.. We created 2 different brands, that are best sellers and we do compete against larger brands, customers mistake us for a similar scale business..

    Through nothing but hard graft we just turned over £400k last year, profits up, product ranges grow, it continues to be hard work but successful, we continue to grow and will not stop. We are totally web based for the reasons that no bank, council or government were interested in what I was upto, no grants, no loans, no tax breaks, no VAT breaks, no business property deals, no princes trust scheme for us, no knowledgeable business advice, no way of getting our products into a high street either, so I did it myself online. It all gives a better margin with lower overheads.

    We work online at home, our stock is stored in a unit, we do not pay business rates for this reason. I would work from a shop unit for high street presence, but give us a break.

    I must say I like the way you can just walk into a high street retailer, flash him your knickers and you get the orders.. This isnt SME this is using the ‘Mary Portas’ brand, how smug was the guy from John Lewis. In reality John Lewis is not interested in the small guy products, despite being able to offer margins better than other brands it is impossible to meet the ‘smug man’.

    We could not possibly be local, our business is global and niche, the issue is national that the system fails niche SMEs and start ups. Imagine my store with just 50 products in it, it would not draw the crowds. Online they do, the overheads are much less, our customers are global, we employ local. I could employ more locals if VAT was dropped and the ‘smug man’ bought local.

    Your message is right though, but the smug man must change, the banks must lend, the government well as long as their corporate shareholders are happy.. Go it alone and declare independence.

    good pr though..
    David.

  9. John Cowan says:

    Good morning Mary
    We are pleased you are looking at helping the local (East Anglia, Norfolk) market towns but hope you will, when recommending cash and stock control for retailers, make sure that local suppliers are given the chance to quote. The EPOS suppliers in the area can give local support and have local knowledge. We can offer full systems and usualy at a lower cost than the large software/hardware providers, especialy the ongoing support costs as we have lower overheads and are local to the area. We also need the local businness so we can use local services ourselves and help keep turnover in the area.
    John Cowan
    For Anglia EPOS
    One of East Anglia’s EPOS suppliers

  10. Clare says:

    Love your knickers but very confused about the sizing. Libertys say L is size 16-18. M&S say L is 20-22. Which is correct?

  11. certainly like your web site but you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very bothersome to tell the truth however I will certainly come back again.

  12. Mike Sercombe says:

    Mary, you go off to Paris where they produce some of the sexiest ladies underwear in the world. Their style and marketing you then completely ignored! You can spent a fortune on a thong in France, it having been marketed with such style and taste. I really admire what you are attempting but the knickers are, well drab and the marketing is surely a throwback from Bamforth’s seaside postcards. I tried to avoid using the word, tacky because it only provokes more “nudge nudge wink wink” but please, Janet Reger not Anne Summers.

  13. Liz Peck says:

    Hi Mary
    I have just seen your Kinky Knickers programme and applaud your efforts. I remember only too well the shocked staff at Bairds in Leeds when M&S pulled the plug on them. Let’s start making Britain great again. Everyone needs to pull together though and that includes your retailers. Liberty’s want to charge me 25 quid to send one pair of Kinky Knickers to Spain!! That makes the knickers out of reach for lots of people. Good luck anyway.

  14. Anne says:

    Hello Mary,
    I greatly admire what you are trying to do with British manufacturing. I think things took a nose dive when suddenly St Michael ceased to exist, and now M&S seems to be going abroad for all their goods. Such a large chain needs to support the home team, and you are the one to make them! Good luck with the nix!

  15. Hey There. I discovered your blog the use of msn. This is an extremely neatly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will definitely return.

  16. lisa says:

    hi mary firstly i would like to say you are great that you are doing the kinky knickers made in britain . about time we had british made knickers. scunthorpe used to have 2 knicker factories now none. i have just gone online on asos , selfridges, and liberties abd the biggest size you sell is a 14 !!!! com on Mary us bigger girls like cute kinky knickers too not bucket nana knickers currently available . will you be making any bigger sizes ?????

  17. geilepetra says:

    I have read a few just right stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot attempt you put to make any such excellent informative web site.

  18. Made In Britain!!brill work.You’ve got a task on your hands,My god if you pull it off i’ll take my hat off>//
    We are the oldest and the longest running clothing manufacturers left in Leicester.We employed some 90 strong skilled workforce with an average 18 year service with us.Our biggest supply chain,Top Shop.then one dat Sir P.Green said “Sorry guys,cant afford UK prices naymore but if you allocate your production outside UK,we’ll give all orders you can make for us”.So goodbye,our 90 loyal staff,all redundant,Paid fully.Sad day @ K & A Fashions Manufacturing Ltd.
    Today we still trade,give us the funding and we’ll recruit and put UK manufacturing on the MAP.China,or India cannot replace Quality or service!!

  19. Fantastic blog. Personally, I have been following natural gas stokcs for the last few weeks and see a lot of potential in the next decade or so. Natural gas is dirt cheap right now (10 year lows actually), but experts predict that by the year 2016 we will begin to see a surge in natural gas prices because of increasing demand and high oil prices. I’ve been following smaller energy companies too such as Alon U.S. Energy Partners, whose stock soared nearly 56% in a 2 week stretch.

  20. Kamla Jevons says:

    Dear Mary,

    Made in BRITAIN medium priced clothes—about time.

    I have not felt the urge to record by sentiment in a very long time but watching the programme on Channel 4 about Kinky Knickers gave me a rare hope of sunshine. I had given up on the expectation of going into a UK store and discovering a garment made in BRITAIN. Give me the quality and at £10 a piece, I will happily live with 10 a year, rather than 20 at a £5 a piece, which fall apart after a few washes or run colour into my weekly laundry.

    M & S should be jumping at the chance to place made in BRITAIN QUALITY knickers in their store. They used to stand for quality. Perhaps I will shop on line at Boots for my Kinky Knickers. Sorry no HOF or John Lewis in my local market town.

    Why not bring back the manufacture of jeans and trousers, made in BRITAIN, that do not rub colour off on to your skin and furniture when new. I am not an expert but believe fabric needs colour fast dyes and requires proper washing to avoid colour run and rub-off. Fabric manufactures limit the washing and finishing cycles to reduce the volume of rinse waste water they have to discharge or treat.

  21. Jason says:

    Mary,

    I enjoyed watching the programme tonight but was left wondering if you were ever going to do something for the other 49% of the population that also buy clothes (and underwear) A good start would be a pair of boxer shorts that don’t ride up in the legs and where the waist band doesn’t turn over (if you have a bit more above the waist than David Beckham) It would be a refreshing change to have something that does the job properly.

    • Andrew says:

      I agree 100% with Jason! I spent a day in London at the Ideal Home Show today in a brand new pair of boxers. Everytime I got up after sitting down I had to pull them out of areas they shouldn’t have been in. I am not overweight, and they were my usual standard everyday buy, from the shop that used to sell 3/4 of all of the underwear worn in Britain (Not name dropping!). You are doing a great job with kinky knickers Mary. I read you’d love to do it again, so please do. but this time for us men! I’d gladly pay £10 for a completely made in England pair of boxer shorts that wash without fading, are the proper size and fit, and last!

  22. Maureen Travers says:

    Mary, Does this help? A new range for Kids underwear “Skids”. I have often thought about patented this name, but if you can use it to get people back in work. That’s great! All I ask of you is some feedback, that may help some unemployed members of my family. Keep up the good work!

  23. [...] up to £100k to be spent on specific initiatives that test the recommendations laid out in the Portas Review, which aim to improve small town centres and high streets, making them more financially viable, [...]

  24. [...] The pilot was set up after Portas reviewed the state of the UK’s High Street, and presented a number of recommendations for improvement. [...]

  25. [...] The pilot was set up after Portas reviewed the state of the UK’s High Street, and presented a number of recommendations for improvement. [...]

  26. Ina Quig says:

    Hi,
    I visited the Mary store in House of Fraser Oxford Street on 8th Feb.On arrival my friends and I found Mary there.She and the staff there were great,a thoroughly enjoyable visit and one I couldnt wait to repeat.A week later ,full of enthusiasm I went with my daughter.Our visit couldn’t have been more different…..staff interest was nil and on making a purchase my daughter was given a House of Fraser bag.Very disappointing.It would seem that Mary’s vision isn’t follwed through.What a shame.I e mailed mary’s press office with similar comments some time ago and didn’t even get an acknowledgement.Great customer service indeed.

  27. shopping says:

    I enjoy, cause I discovered just what I was looking for. You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  28. susan says:

    So the Government has taken on board your recomendations for saving the high streets and helping small business? Well today I received my business rates demand for 2012-13 for my small shop, and the council had raised them by just under 10% (which was the max the governments had allowed) great news when inflation is running at just over 3.5%. Now I have to decide whether to employ a saturday assistant or use the money to pay the increase. I am not impressed

  29. Very educating summary, bookmarked the website in interest to read more information!

  30. [...] South Molton Business Association, (SMBA) together with South Molton Town Council, are working as a Town Team with other interested parties, to try to secure a share of £1 million currently being offered by the Government to 12 towns across the country. The funding is to be used to boost high streets, following a report and recommendations by business guru Mary Portas [...]

  31. [...] Round 1 is almost at a close, but Round 2 is awaiting in the wings. It’s been an exciting journey and we have learnt a lot, both from working with councils and local traders. Nearly all the problems we have found are universal and make even more sense of the proposals put forward by Mary Portas in her report. [...]

  32. Sarah Bryant says:

    Just bought some knickers – will matching bras be available soon?

  33. helen b says:

    Dear Mary

    with ref to my previous comment earlier this morning I have re read the Liberty website now that i’m more awake! and have confirmed that it is £5.95 p&p !! As it appears that it is only possible to buy the full range of knickers today online from Liberty’s (please correct me if i’m wrong) I feel that it is exploitative to expect consumers to pay that amount of p&p on a £10 purchase even if you do get it wrapped up in a nice bit of tissue paper! I’m very supportive of this venture and want people to buy British but when you are trying to appeal to the general public you are in danger of alienating them if you are using Libertys as your launchpad when their p&p costs are so high.

  34. helen b says:

    Dear Mary

    I have just gone to the Liberty website to look at purchasing a pair of your kinky knickers for £10 however when I proceeded to the checkout it said the total cost was £15.95 to inc. vat and p&p. I’m confused is vat added onto the £10 purchase price of the knickers making them £12 plus £2.95 p&p ( if this is the case are you allowed to do that when selling direct to the public?) or are they charging £5.95 p&p ( if this is the case then that is a crazy amount for one pair of knickers which probably weigh no more than a greetings card!) either way it is a rip off and as you chose to launch your knickers at Liberty’s for £10 it doesn’t look good.

  35. Ray says:

    Hello Mary

    Great shows done with passion, enthusiasm, feelings and of course genuine intent.

    I have worked mostly for small private firms, and for 12 years in local government. What I find reflects the attitude of the average person in the UK.

    Britain has since the last world war gradually slumped into rack and ruin (we all know that). Britain has actively for 60 years or more been told, aren’t we great, aren’t we the best! Well not any more. Who’s to blame, I think it’s a combination of incompetent, corrupt, selfish and lazy government and business leaders. They’ve been convincing us for years, and we fell for it. We haven’t tried, we haven’t bothered – we’ve failed. Why haven’t we, because we have been conned. When today does anyone put the person first, put our country first – no I’m afraid it’s self. It has got to such a stage that standards in all things have fallen drastically. We had a car industry until recent; we used to have a motorcycle industry once, 40 years ago. Lack of investment, lack of innovation, and no government support.

    Whatever government we get in to power doesn’t matter, I feel the real problem facing us now is to get back a feeling of worth. Create real standards that are taught in schools from day one. Taught in prisons, in training courses, job centres, colleges and universities as part of everyday life – everyday values.

    Japan recovered from a conquered nation by following quality standards. Perhaps this country needs to follow their example, which interestingly was told to them by an American – W. Edwards Deming.

    Good luck with all your future projects 100% with you.

    Ray

  36. Helen B says:

    I watched your programme last night and was very touched by the whole episode. You are so needed today and the sole lace manufacturer had just the right idea and I do believe that he is absolutely spot on. Please Mary, do kick-start the British industry and let’s make British again. I would certainly be pleased to buy your British knickers! I think now that we have so much better communication, ie, ordering online, this could make such a huge difference. It was just so wonderful to watch those people, and especially the youngsters, the chance to work. Those of us in employment are just so lucky to be so. The more general public support you have for buying your merchandise, the more people can be employed. Just wonderful!

  37. val hazel says:

    Dear Mary,
    I watched your programme last night and was deeply moved and so admire what you are trying to do. However you posed the question why don’t the Brits. buy British – the French buy french and the Austrians buy Austrian I think you will find the answer in the fact that we are no longer encouraged to be patriotic. Adele on picking up her award said “I am so proud to be British” but a couple of nights later Frank Skinner is lampooning her on a tv show stating that it’s not a thing one says ” too UKIPish”. The Scots, Welsh and Irish are allowed to be patriotic but not English or British in case you offend anybody. With that pride went the desire to support the country although to be fair the quality of some British goods did deteriorate. I gave up trying to buy British clothes when even at the more expensive end of the market ie Country Casuals they were no longer available. I still buy British food as much as possible and even know a lot of the country codes but sadly a lot of my friends don’t even bother any more. I do so hope that your venture succeeds and I wish you and your recruits the best of luck – especially the young father who was so responsible for his age. I do hope you can restore some of the faith and support in our manufacturing industry.

    All the Best
    Val Hazel

  38. Louise says:

    Dear Mary
    Marvellous British underwear venture. Hope others follow suit.
    Are Boots still avoiding paying their fair share of UK taxes? as they were.
    Warm regards

  39. julie says:

    Dear Mary,

    I watched you on the One Show and had to watch last nights programme, which, moved me to tears.
    I absolutely agree with everything you are doing and I for one, now shop for quality not quantity. As we all have less money, regardless of our salaries, the money you actually spend, needs to be able to last. My home town, whilst not bad yet, has had many shops close down and is now full of charity shops.

    However, please, please tell me that your Kinky Knickers are not to only be available to buy at the most expensive, famous shop – Libertys???! Selling them there simply does not match the people who make them and what you are trying to achieve.

    I would love to know if any major retailers, are refusing to stock them and I think should be outed! British owned shops (??!) should be selling British products. These Knickers need to be available to all and not simply at this elitist shop.

    Please let me know!

    p.s I know that due to the support you will receive for this product, they will sell anywhere!!

  40. vanilla Rugby says:

    Hi Mary and the team,

    I met you back in May last year in my shop in Rugby. Well I’m still here but since christmas sales have started to decline. I have become more and more aware of the impact that the internet is having on my shop ( I have not got a selling website and don’t want one as after much research I have concluded it would be too expensive to create and maintain for the amount of sales I’m likely to acheive in an ever overcrowded website market). A guy came in the other day and asked what my best price was for a wall cabinet I had I told him it was the price on the ticket (I have my overheads to think about !) He then asked me If I could measure it for him “certainly sir” I said “thanks” he said “I just wanted to know the dimensions before I order it on line for less money” !!!! what I can’t get over is that customers now think it is acceptable to use my shop as a window before buying on line this is happening more frequently and I predict it will get much worse. The main culprit is Amazon practically every branded product you can mention is on Amazon usually a lot cheaper and often with free P&P it is such an easy site to navigate and so efficient , everybody trusts it and it is always on page one of google usually near the top. I know you will be saying why don’t I sell on Amazon but I don’t want to get into a price war on products because the only people who win are the big boys although I do conceed it is a good place to offload sale stock. I think Amazon should be investigated by the Monopolies Commission as I feel they are taking over the World!. I am having a big rethink on the way forward for my business, I’m cutting back on the amount of high profile branded products that I sell and I’m looking for more unbranded products and products from small companies. A friend of mine makes hats in leicestershire from a work unit with a couple of sewing machines – have faith Mary there are some small manufacturers out there -this year she has had a stand at Top drawer, NEC Spring Fair, Pure and Beta and has a healthy order book from shops looking for something different. I Also have a cafe in my shop which I’m going to concentrate on more – you can’t buy a cappuccino on line! In order to survive I know I have to stay one step ahead, I read an article that said there hasn’t been such an assult on our high street since emergence of supermarkets back in the 50′s but I’m determined to to squeeze through that window of opportunity and create a different type of high street with a shopping experience you cannot buy online!

    Regards

    Helen Blamires

  41. Nicola Owen says:

    Dear Mary

    I think you are a revelation! I just watched your ‘bottomline’ and wanted to thank you personally for your work and the impact you are trying to make-what an inspiration. My city used to be a lovely place to shop, idealistically glancing into shop windows and imaging a day when those things might be affordable after a lifetime of hardwork but the high street was killed by an ugly Westfield and now shopping is a corporate disappointment with all of the boutiques and independent stores having been shut down.

    We are a nation who has lost its soul and it is pioneers like you who are the only ones who can change things! I cannot wait to buy your pants!!!!

  42. Unquestionably imagine that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the web the easiest factor to take into accout of. I say to you, I definitely get irked whilst other folks consider concerns that they just don’t realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as smartly as outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

  43. Peter Guy says:

    Hello Mary, Just finished watching your program and finding it difficult to put my feelings into words. As a time served engineeing apprentice with 44years of manufacturing experience I have witnessed the decline in all areas of our maufacturing base in the UK and it has always truely saddened me. In my experience the engineers, designers and workers in this country have always proved themselves second to none. I, like you greive for the loss of our great manufacturing traditions and the skills that were so rich and plentiful here in the UK. It is a tragedy that the importance of these skills were never realised by those who could have influenced the situation. I wish you every success in your attempt to promote British manufacturing, British products, British materials and British labour. You desreve all the assistance this country can offer.

  44. roger Melanaphy says:

    Dear Mary Portas,

    I applaud what you are trying to do to the High Street and read with some incredulity in our local paper that Walton on the Naze Town Forum are putting in a bid for a High Street grant. Yes the town does need money, but before before you agree to anything here, do your research into the EEDA money that has been pumped into this town over the years and to what effect. You may find that your grant applicants had much to do with the current state of the high street. From experience in grant administration, I always advocate in favour of strict probity and expect outcomes.

    Roger Melanaphy – Retired Grant Officer and Regeneration professional

  45. Anton Smith says:

    Dear Mary,

    High Street Regeneration – Who’s Going to Support Enterprise Development?

    As you maintain, we need a concerted effort to integrate the activities of individuals, local councils, businesses, enterprise support agencies and educational establishments into the common goal of community enhancement.
    I’m frequently disappointed at the lack of integration and joined-up thinking. For example, in my efforts to start an enterprise centre to encourage and support economic growth in my local area, see below, I’m astounded at the apathy of businesses who would not support the venture but which is likely to increase their available market and therefore their own growth locally.

    For the last 10 years I’ve worked in the area of both commercial and social enterprise start-ups, supporting people, especially young people, into self-employment and formation of SME’s, Community Projects and Charities. I’m an ex-CEO from the Packaging Industry and for the last 10 years a counsellor. I combine both experiences to offer a unique form of Enterprise Counselling support. I learned this through working for 7 years with a wonderful charity, Wandsworth Youth Enterprise Centre (WYEC), which offers free start-up support to people up to the age of 30.

    This model was supported by EU funding to start similar projects in the emerging economies of Eastern Europe in the early to mid-2000’s. Business schools/business courses and advice agencies tend to offer a formulaic approach which does not take individuality into account. The open-minded exploration techniques of counselling allows for individualism and offers a form of holistic support that encourages multi-dimensional, creative, innovative and lateral thinking and a belief in what is possible.

    These are the core elements in my work.

    There are so many good ideas floating around that can make a real difference to local communities, given the chance and encouragement to flourish – all too often, people are put off pursuing their ideas by the discouraging responses of friends, family, support agencies, banks and by their own mindset that it wouldn’t be possible for them to succeed.

    All they need to progress their ideas is to know where to go for support and to have an empathic and supportive environment that encourages self-belief. This happens through carrying out, with guidance, a focussed research and business planning process. It enables them to prove to themselves, through their own endeavours, that they have a viable idea and that they have the skills and attributes to make it happen.

    They are therefore encouraged by what they discover rather than being discouraged by inappropriate opinions of others. As you illustrate time and again by talking to potential buyers and consumers in your programmes, it’s market reaction that determines the success of an enterprise, not opinions.

    Counselling techniques allow for the exploration of ideas which can be tested in the market, the results interpreted, qualitatively and quantitively and to be finely tuned to match supply with demand as closely as possible. I’ve witnessed dramatic changes in people for the better – especially in those from disadvantaged and disaffected backgrounds and there is a real economic and social bonus in the reduction of dependence on state benefits and, in some other cases, crime.

    With colleagues, I’m in the process of starting an Enterprise Centre in my area, Richmond-Upon Thames, which will offer the same support model as WYEC (and with their blessing), based on individual empowerment and which is holistic in nature. It will, however, offer support to a wider client base in terms of age than WYEC and will extend to existing enterprises. The idea has the verbal support of the local Council, Business Schools and a couple of local MP’s. We’re seeking support in all quarters for the idea.

    As a society, we need to be aware of the immense talent and innovation that exists – much of which will provide the energy for the vital process of regeneration that you’re championing. All too often, enterprise is negated by discouragement, a reluctance to provide start-up capital, archaic attitudes, poor advice and a “that’ll never work” attitude. If we are to improve our communities in the way you, me and many others wish, the right form of support has to be in place for this to happen – which is not often the case. We need also to help equip people with the confidence, perseverance and tenacity to overcome the sort of obstacles cited by your correspondent, Alan Razey, yesterday and which are so debilitating and frustrating, as well as making representations to those bodies that, maybe inadvertently, create blocks to progress.

    I feel it’s great that you’re in the process of regeneration of manufacturing. I’m old enough to have witnessed the demise of UK-based and UK-owned manufacturing, including that of my own industry, printing and packaging, from the mid-1960’s onwards. Whilst there were economic reasons why this happened, not least of all the UK’s entry into the EU in 1973, it was also accompanied by a laissez-faire attitude and a belief that the foreign “invasions” wouldn’t last. It was like a form of surrender. I was however, most heartened by the young people’s comments in the extract from your programme shown on BBC Breakfast this morning. Like you, it is my experience that the current generation of young people have a high level of social conscience and economic awareness which has the ability to shift market perceptions.

    Apart from my own experience, I’ve seen in your programmes and those of others (eg John Harvey-Jones in the 1990’s) behaviours and attitudes which seem to be endemic in the UK – resistance to change; inability to spot market opportunities; a lack of understanding of markets and marketing; belief that the lowest price gets the business; autocratic management and poor financial management.

    You and others like you are the public spearheads for change and I see roles such as mine and my colleagues as providing the nuts and bolts infrastructure in order to help it to happen. If I can be instrumental in helping to create the successful entrepreneurs of the future, improve communities and change staid thinking and attitudes, I’ll be a happy man.

    I’d very much like to have your thoughts and look forward to this possibility.

    Anton Smith

  46. Marine Gould says:

    Mary,
    So impressed by your report and your enthusiasm. Please, please include Torbay Town Centres in the allocation of pilot funding and make them stick to your guidelines. Especially Torquay which has so much going for it and is being visibly neglected and “dumbed down”. Currently visitors LOL when they hear it is called the English Riviera and that reaction could be turned round under your good influence and expertise.

  47. It was great to see in black and white what I have been thinking for years. A fresh look at Oxford from the perspective of the people that live, visit and study here, would give the powers that be the insight that would empower then to turn a beautiful historic city that has a rather boring town centre that is emptying rather rapidly, into a city centre full of life, inspiration and opportunity.
    Communication and inspiration are the keys laid out in this great report.
    Matthew Clulee

  48. Allan Razey says:

    But. Will the Council and NPS take any notice, of just say nothing, do nothing, hear nothing, and it will all go away ?
    Action is urgently needed and NOW!

  49. Allan Razey says:

    I have read Mary’s comments with avid enthusiasm but cannot escapre from my mind’s knowledge of the current disaster now occuring in Hull.
    A friend applied for a space at the Trinity Market, where there were many vacany sites (? an omen) in July of 2011 and had to go through a rigmarole of interviews, credit checks, legal checks and administrative checks. Much later he got the go ahead to take up his preferred site,and awaited for his contract and invoices for rent (called licence fees), and had to pay a £50 fee to the Hull City Council, plus £500 to the previous site occupany who had left the site but – against contract dictat, had left shelves and a counter. The Licence (contract) did not arrive until late November, so all the intervening period the trader had no idea of the Licence (contract) implications/ rules.
    No invoices were issued to him until February so great concern was evident as to the abysmal adminstrative procedures so far, and wondered if this was the proposed invigoration of Town and City markets envisaged by Mary.
    Making out his own invoices, so as not to occur a heavy final bill, and pointing this out to the company adminstering the market, each and every week, there was no responses, apologies or explanations.
    Alas, the Council had handed over its management of its properties to a company called NPS who resised in plush offices some distance away.
    On discovering who the supposed manager was, an interview was arranged, and the ‘manager’ admited the market was as important as a coca cola bottle in a brewery. They were dealing with £1,000,00.oo contracts and she – the manager – knew nothing of management and runing a market. Her expertice was in company management, dealing with admin, funding and like matters.
    February, following an hour long meeting, a corect account was raised, despite a number of intermittent errors and lack of explanations, but my friend also kept getting, thereafter, invoices for a site he had considered but did not take up. He was advised, following a number of reminders, just to forget the invoices.
    A fellow friend applied for a site but kept, then, getting invoices for a neighbouring site instead of his own allocated stall.
    Applicants have to wait months for a nod to say “go ahead”, although there were numerous vacant places.
    One xisting Trader applied for a vacant area but was so frustrated at the interminable delays, and necessity to have further credit, legal and other checks he withdrew his application, and has since given up the site he had occupied in frustration.
    The management company do NOT advertise vacant sites in the popular local press – The Hull Daily Mail – but prefer, occasionally, to advertise in a commercial field – where potential future traders are unlikely to readily find.

    Opportunities for intended traders – some seeking a first step on the trading ladder, some unemployed looking for a new opportunity to start their own business, others who might consider the chance to start up on their own – and little capital is needed. But, the red tape, delays, procrastination and lack of management interest kills every sinew of hope.
    The red tape in the Licence (Contract) is out of this world. You cannot stand in the aisles – but there is no-where else to stand. You cannot eat or drink at your work station, – despite traders being one man/person businesspeople. and so it goes on. Enough to dampen the enthusiasm of any potential entrepeneur.
    The Trinity Market once had a Market Manager but the Council decided to privatise the situation, dispensed with the manager – but was replaced by an adminstrative ‘manager’ from the controlling company, who admits she has no knoledge or experience in the field of Markets and their management.
    The previous manager was excellent and under his enthusiastic direction the market was lively, profitable, waiting lists for spaces, always themed interest activities and an excellent raport with all traders.
    Now fifty per cent of the stalls are vacant, many so for months on end.
    The management, in their duty of ‘management’ do no advertising of the customer opportunities, thus the public have no idea of the provisions available.
    The manager does not manage by on site attendance, interest, certainly no enthusiasm or leadership. It is therefore not surprising that not less that four current occupants are now ending their trading status and occupancy
    Thus continues the downward slope to extinction, despondency by existing traders and, obviously, loss of income to the Hull City Council. With this is the loss of start up businesses by those, who if made aware of the vacancies, would fill empty spaces, bring life back into the market – but this could only be achieved, as Mary points out, with the cutting of red tape, the appointment of a market manager, perhaps appointing the present Council supervisor to accept responsibility and freedom to ‘ manage’ the market instead of merely cleaning and taking care.
    The opportunity to make Trinity Market successful is there. Potential traders are waiting, it only requires the Hull City Council to make appropriate changes, improvements and have a manager who can manage.
    Allan Razey

  50. [...] see high streets disappear in the near future. This issue has been highlighted by famous faces like Mary Portas who’s currently fronting a media campaign to regenerate shopping areas across the country. [...]

    • Mike Jones says:

      Hi Mary, More power to you and your campaign, it will not be easy but stick at it. My personal thoughts regarding the country’s retail decline is two fold, yes there is a lack of cash for some to spend but problem number two sits fair and square with the retailer and the owners of the business. I have two children both in their early twenties who have got off their backsides and both bought houses. They are in the market to purchase both small and major items for their homes and that is where they come up against hurdles. Lots of shops and stores are open Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm, not much use as my children are in work during most of those hours, and on the two days that they are off work and able to go out and actually spend hard earned cash at these shops, they find that lots of them close “very enthusiasticly” at 12 noon on a Saturday and are either closed on a Sunday or close at 4pm. I myself changed from working Monday to Friday 9-5 to working various days and hours that gave me days off in the week that were far more productive and enjoyable as everywhere i wanted to go to was fully open and operational. Sundays have always been and still are such a drag plus a massive loss to the retail world. The time has come for our country to change and accept that Sunday is a day for church if you wish to go to church or shop and spend if you wish to do so, but not with vastly reduced hours. The employment rules will need looking at and the recruitment of people would include the fact that Sat/Sun working is normal, but days off in the week would be the norm. Lets try it out for two years and see what happens to the retail world, if it fails so what, what have we lost? but for “Gods” sake lets give it a try.

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