Mary Portas, dubbed the “Queen of Shops” by the British media, is a force to be reckoned with in the retail industry. Starting her retail career with the likes of John Lewis, Harrods, and Topshop, Mary joined Harvey Nichols, where she climbed the corporate ladder and joined the company’s Board as Creative Director in 1989. The company’s successful transformation into a successful fashion store is accredited to her efforts.
Mary Portas launched Yellowdoor, her own agency, in 1997. The business made its mark in the retail industry with its creative marketing, branding, and client campaign. Amongst these are included Clarks, Dunhill, Louis Vuitton, Westfield, Swarovski, Oasis, and a host of others.
Because Mary wanted her agency to appeal to today’s retail landscape and human behaviour, she relaunched her agency in 2013 as Portas.
Besides her agency, Mary has embarked on a number of personal projects and published a number of books: Windows: The Art of Retail Display, How to Shop, and Shopgirl, a memoir of her early life experiences.
Her weekly column in Telegraph Magazine inspired her television career, highlighting Mary’s efforts to rescue independent boutiques that were failing. Her programme, Mary Queen of Shops, was showcased on BBC2. This was followed, in 2011, by Mary Portas: Secret Shopper, for Channel 4 and the commissioning of other series to follow.
Mary’s transformation of an Orpington shop for Save the Children saw her nominated as the organisation’s Global Retail Ambassador. Her new charity format showcased in her Living and Giving stores have seen the concept adopted across the country.
Mary’s personal experience with the lack of adequate High Street fashion for older women led to the creation of her own shop within House of Fraser. The commercial and critical acclaim received by this endeavor led to the documentary Mary Queen of Frocks.
From there, she went on to revitalise the manufacturing industry by reopening a factory in Manchester and staffing it with handpicked apprentices. “Kinky Knickers’ are now stocked by a number of UK retailers.
Her success brought her to the attention of the British Government who commissioned her to lead an independent review on the future of High Streets. Her plan received the necessary support, seeing Mary act as a catalyst for community regeneration and the re-visioning of high streets across the country.
Mary Portas was awarded a Doctorate of Letters as recognition for her contribution to and advancement of marketing and brand communication in the retail sector.
Mary’s expertise in her field has not only led to the creation of television programmes and her becoming a national spokesperson for the fashion and retail sectors but has resulted in her standing out as an accomplished and sought-after speaker as well. Her expert advice, insights, and compelling, infectious enthusiasm engages her audiences from the start.
“She was excellent and was fab she did not talk about being a woman but showed what a strong businessperson is about!”
“Mary was an excellent speaker. She spoke with great enthusiasm and humour and personalised the session to our company.”
“Perfectly pitched for an audience of our background and experience”