Opening Address 2014 - The future of customer needs, behaviour & community values by Mary Portas
Mary Portas, Chief Creative Officer at Portas, retail consultant, television personality and government adviser on the future of the high street in Britain will headline this year’s Finance Directors’ Forum. A huge variety of influences have impressed upon Mary the importance of responsible corporate behaviour and a very deep respect for the drivers of all of our economic engines – the people who pay for them.
Tasked with finding solutions to the long term decline of Britain’s shrinking high streets in 2011, she offered the government 28 separate recommendations, many of which are already bearing fruit. From leading efforts to re-create British clothing manufacturing to re-imagining charity shops as profitable community hubs, Mary Portas’s vision of how we will live and shop in the future is well placed to illuminate her topic: The future of customer needs, behaviour and community values.
Mary Portas is widely recognised as one of the UK’s foremost authorities on retail and brand communication, and has a multitude of expertise; business woman, advertising executive, retail expert, Government adviser, broadcaster and consumer champion. Beginning her retail career in John Lewis, Boots, Harrods and Topshop, she joined Harvey Nichols, progressing to the Board as Creative Director in 1989. She was credited with leading its transformation into a world renowned fashion store. In 1997 Mary left Harvey Nichols to launch an agency, Yellowdoor, which has made its mark in the creative advertising landscape and in January 2013 she re-launched her agency with a new name and brand: Portas.
Inspired by her weekly ‘Shop!’ column in the Telegraph Magazine, Mary began her television career in 2007 when her efforts to rescue failing independent boutiques were documented by the BBC2 series Mary Queen of Shops. Mary’s continued advocacy of our High Streets led to her receiving a commission from the British Government to lead an independent review. She delivered her report on the future of our High Streets to the Prime Minister, in December 2011, outlining 28 recommendations to rescue failing High Streets, and her work has been a catalyst for community regeneration, and the re-visioning of high streets across the country.