Mary Portas is a brilliantly British phenomenon. She transformed Harvey Nichols into the shop we all wanted to spend in; then she marched onto our TV sets, teaching her retail mantras to failing businesses, the charity market. From OAPs working in charity shops, to overly hair-gelled estate agents, her refreshingly real retail prowess made for gripping viewing, as we saw her map out how they could improve their businesses, we all felt her verve, her potent power at seeing where things could improve and wanted so much for them to listen.
Now with her store-within-a-store at House of Fraser on Oxford Street, Mary has identified a gap in the mid-market high street here in the UK, the over 40s stylish woman. Cecilia Chancellor is the model: a face at once familiar to anyone who remembers ‘The Face’ or my old boss the talented stylist Anna Cockburn’s 90’s fashion shoots and I think the perfect fit for Mary’s store and its image.
En route to a Cornish weekend away she kindly answered a few questions about the store and why someone like me (a new mother with so little time to shop, that service now more important than ever) might like to go there.
1) Mary Portas at House of Fraser is a new collaboration for Mary, in that it brings her manifesto – her Maryness to Oxford Street, to a department store and therefore to a mass market who know and love her from her TV shows. How different do you think this is from what is on offer currently on Oxford’s Street, or indeed ‘the’ high street?
Mary: Because I