Mary Queen Of Shops

Mary sets her sights high as she comes up with some big ideas that can make a difference to every charity shop on the high street. First up is launching an innovative campaign to convince the public to donate quality items. Undeterred by last week’s failure to get better donations she takes her grey army into big businesses to target fashion-lovers in their workplace in a bid to get them to part with the designer threads languishing at the back of their wardrobes.

Her challenge sees Mary throwing open the doors of her retail academy to transform an army of dedicated volunteers from across the charity sector into sales machines. However, it’s been half a century since many of the attendees have sat in a classroom and they’re more like naughty school kids than mature students.

Meanwhile, big changes are underway at Mary’s shop. She’s convinced head office to pay for a shop manager and a radical shop fit, but in return they want Mary to double the weekly takings. Some of the ideas bring dissent in the ranks as Mary struggles to convince some of the more stubborn team members that the changes are for the better.

Things look up when Mary’s campaign results in some fantastic donations, the new manager arrives and the new-look shop opens for business, but can Mary meet the new target of £2,000 a week in the midst of a crippling recession?

Mary Portas is a woman on a mission – a mission to transform the humble charity shop. And what better way to get to understand the nitty gritty of charity shop life than to roll up her sleeves, put on a pinny and get stuck in?

First stop is Orpington and a poorly-performing Save the Children outlet. Mary works on developing the shop throughout the series in a bid to increase profits and prove that charity shops can be as hot as the best retailers on the high street. If her ideas succeed they could be rolled out across the entire chain.

After introducing herself to the volunteer work force – many of whom are pensioners with up to 30 years’ service – Mary tries to teach them how to overhaul the sad and tired clothes and bric-a-brac that gets dumped at her shop door.

Gobsmacked by the appalling quality of the donations, Mary and her trusty volunteers descend on West London’s glossiest shopping centre armed with sacks of dirty knickers and moth-eaten jumpers to see what think the Great British public think of them.

With the help of volunteer and former football coach Graham, Mary launches a local campaign to get better donations into her shop, but her first attempt to appeal to the people of Orpington’s charitable side fails and Mary’s left wondering if she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

In two series of BBC Two’s Mary, Queen Of Shops, retail guru Mary Portas turned around the fortunes of struggling independent fashion boutiques across the UK. Now Mary’s taking on her toughest challenge yet, turning her steely gaze to a much neglected sector of the fashion market: charity shops.

Mary believes charity shops represent a key part of the future of shopping: a vast number of consumers worry about ethical shopping and the environment and charity shops provide a route to a greener way to shop where everybody wins.

But by getting to grips with the likes of MIND, Barnardo’s, The North London Hospice and Save the Children, will she be able to work her magic on places more famous for the smell of their clothes than the smell of success? We’re about to find out.

All but the top three charity shops are struggling to grab the attention of shoppers in a climate where they should be cashing in. A recession and the environmental crisis mean customers are counting the pennies and trying to live greener lives, yet they’re ignoring these shops, despite their low-cost stock and a free recycling service to anyone that wants to clear out their homes or wardrobes.

Mary believes the time has come for charity shops to become a serious contender on the high street but most are crying out for help.

In Mary’s words: “They’re where clothes and bric-a-brac go to die and I’m making it my mission to breathe new life into them and to make them a shopping destination.”

In Mary, Queen Of Charity Shops, a three-part series for BBC Two, Mary has five months to change the nation’s attitudes and prove that charity shops can be as good a place to shop as the nation’s favourite high street retailers and to do it she’s going to be donning a tabard and running her own charity shop.

And she’s promised to help every charity on every high street by solving the biggest problem facing them today – the terrible donations we land at their doors.

Queen of shopping comes to BBC Two
Factual & Arts TV; BBC Two

BBC Two has commissioned a new primetime series in which retail guru Mary Portas helps independent fashion shop owners – the fleet-footed Davids of the retail world – fight back against the all-consuming high street Goliaths.

What Mary Portas doesn’t know about shops isn’t worth knowing. She’s the woman who turned Harvey Nichols from the place you went to get your Barbour repaired and your tiara polished into a modern powerhouse of fashion and style.

Today she’s one of the most respected people in the fashion industry.

In Mary Queen Of Shops, Mary will share the tricks and tips she’s learned from her years at the leading edge of fashion retailing, giving us the ultimate insider’s guide as to how to get the most out of shops and shopping.

Each week in Mary Queen Of Shops – a new four-part series to be broadcast on BBC Two in Spring 2007 – Mary will troubleshoot her way around the UK on a mission to help turn around struggling fashion boutiques: saving the high street, one shop at a time.

Mary’s mission is about much more than just fixing the balance sheet, her no-nonsense approach will see her take radical steps to turn the business around and put the glamour and sex appeal back into shopping.

To experience first-hand what the businesses are really like, Mary will visit the boutique while the owners are away.

Then she will begin a revamp that sees her throw out the old – whether it’s surly staff or dodgy clothes – and bring in the new, and get the shop owners bang up-to-date on what’s hot and what’s so last season.

With front row seats at London Fashion Week and tough sessions with the key people at some of the country’s leading fashion magazines, Mary will use all the tricks of the trade to whip these shops into fashionable shape.

Building on other successful BBC Two factual entertainment programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, the series is commissioned by BBC Commissioning Editor Elaine Bedell, and comes from independent production company Optomen TV – the makers of hit series including Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, The F Word and The Naked Chef.

Elaine Bedell, said: “We’re very excited about the series and with the prospect of establishing Mary Portas as fresh BBC Two talent.

“The series promises an insight into the inner workings of the world’s leading fashion retailers combined with a presenter who brings us expert knowledge but in an approachable, hands-on, fun, and practical way.

“Mary’s a real breath of fresh air who will provide audiences with the ultimate 21st century guide to shopping and retailing.”

Becky Clarke, Executive Producer, Optomen TV, said: Mary’s clients include big names such as Oasis, Miss Selfridge and Louis Vuitton, but what she teaches independent boutique owners from around the country is that the golden rule of retailing applies to everyone from international high street brands to the independent shopkeeper: ‘Know your customer’, or as Mary would say ‘know your tribe’.

“So in this series, Mary literally takes her boutique owners out on the streets to track down the tribe they should be selling to.

“From the ‘Disciples of Beckham’ (who dress according to the cover of that week’s Heat magazine) to the ‘Forever Forties’, who may be 50 but have money and time to burn and want a pair of skinny jeans just like their daughters.”

Notes to Editors

Mary Queen Of Shops is a series of four 60-minute programmes to be broadcast on BBC Two in Spring 2007.

How To Shop by Mary Portas will be published by BBC Books to coincide with the TV series.

Biography of Mary Portas
Retail marketing guru Mary Portas is one of the UK’s foremost authorities on retail and brand communication. As founder and Creative Director at respected London retail branding and communications agency, Yellowdoor, Mary is recognised throughout the trade as the Queen of shops.

Previously Creative Director of Harvey Nichols, Mary repositioned the Harvey Nichols brand into the world renowned store and restaurant group it is today.

Mary’s foresight and unique knowledge of brands, retail trends and consumer insights prompted her to launch Yellowdoor in 1997 when she saw a need for integrated and creative brand communication in the retail, fashion, luxury and beauty sectors.

Under Mary’s guidance, Yellowdoor has created category challenging campaigns for a wide range of brands on the high street including Clarks, Louis Vuitton, Oasis, Swarovski, Dunhill, Boden, Thomas Pink, Miss Selfridge, and Patek Philippe.

Mary travels regularly and frequently lectures on the theme of branding and retail.

Her first book Windows – The Art Of Retail Display (published by Thames and Hudson) was translated into five languages, and quickly became the worldwide authority on the subject.

In 2005 Mary was commissioned to write a weekly feature in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine reviewing the state of the nation’s shops. Mary now sits on the panel judging the annual national Telegraph Best and Worst shops in Britain awards.

BBC Two has commissioned a new primetime series in which retail guru Mary Portas helps independent fashion shop owners – the fleet-footed Davids of the retail world – fight back against the all-consuming high street Goliaths.

What Mary Portas doesn’t know about shops isn’t worth knowing. She’s the woman who turned Harvey Nichols from the place you went to get your Barbour repaired and your tiara polished into a modern powerhouse of fashion and style.

Today she’s one of the most respected people in the fashion industry.

In Mary Queen Of Shops, Mary will share the tricks and tips she’s learned from her years at the leading edge of fashion retailing, giving us the ultimate insider’s guide as to how to get the most out of shops and shopping.

Each week in Mary Queen Of Shops – a new four-part series to be broadcast on BBC Two in Spring 2007 – Mary will troubleshoot her way around the UK on a mission to help turn around struggling fashion boutiques: saving the high street, one shop at a time.

Mary’s mission is about much more than just fixing the balance sheet, her no-nonsense approach will see her take radical steps to turn the business around and put the glamour and sex appeal back into shopping.

To experience first-hand what the businesses are really like, Mary will visit the boutique while the owners are away.

Then she will begin a revamp that sees her throw out the old – whether it’s surly staff or dodgy clothes – and bring in the new, and get the shop owners bang up-to-date on what’s hot and what’s so last season.

With front row seats at London Fashion Week and tough sessions with the key people at some of the country’s leading fashion magazines, Mary will use all the tricks of the trade to whip these shops into fashionable shape.

Building on other successful BBC Two factual entertainment programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, the series is commissioned by BBC Commissioning Editor Elaine Bedell, and comes from independent production company Optomen TV – the makers of hit series including Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, The F Word and The Naked Chef.

Elaine Bedell, said: “We’re very excited about the series and with the prospect of establishing Mary Portas as fresh BBC Two talent.

“The series promises an insight into the inner workings of the world’s leading fashion retailers combined with a presenter who brings us expert knowledge but in an approachable, hands-on, fun, and practical way.

“Mary’s a real breath of fresh air who will provide audiences with the ultimate 21st century guide to shopping and retailing.”

Becky Clarke, Executive Producer, Optomen TV, said: Mary’s clients include big names such as Oasis, Miss Selfridge and Louis Vuitton, but what she teaches independent boutique owners from around the country is that the golden rule of retailing applies to everyone from international high street brands to the independent shopkeeper: ‘Know your customer’, or as Mary would say ‘know your tribe’.

“So in this series, Mary literally takes her boutique owners out on the streets to track down the tribe they should be selling to.

“From the ‘Disciples of Beckham’ (who dress according to the cover of that week’s Heat magazine) to the ‘Forever Forties’, who may be 50 but have money and time to burn and want a pair of skinny jeans just like their daughters.”

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