Retail guru to advise on revival of flagging high street trade

ON TELEVISION she is hailed as the Queen of Shops, and now Mary Portas has been summoned by the Government to advise on reviving Britain’s high streets.

The retail guru will consider how high streets can be given a new lease of life and stopped from becoming “clone towns” filled with chain stores.

She will travel around the country before reporting to Ministers in the autumn with recommendations on what the Government, councils and businesses can do.

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Ms Portas, who is seen on television trying to turn around failing stores in the series Mary Queen of Shops, said: “With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker.

“I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of.”

As part of her review, Ms Portas will advise on tackling the problem of vacant shops, preventing “clone towns” being created and increasing the number of small and independent retailers doing business in local town centres.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The high street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment, so it is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive.

“That is why I am delighted that Mary Portas has agreed to take on this review and I am confident that her straight-talking, no-nonsense approach will help us to create vibrant and diverse town centres and bring back the bustle to our high streets.”

This week economic forecasting group the Ernst & Young Item Club warned that high-street retailers face a decade of pain as the squeeze on family finances tightens.