News & Runway

British High-Street Rejuvenation: Portas’ Pilots

Once, smaller towns around the UK were littered with legions of indies and boutiques, which presented shoppers with the opportunity to buy into more diverse garments rather than just purchase the mass market’s offerings alone. Although some British designer labels are thriving thanks to the Kate-Effect, it’s no secret that due to the recent economic downturn, the British High-Street is suffering. This, coupled with the amount of larger shopping centres bursting at the seams with well known chains, simply means that smaller stores on the periphery of such commercial outlets just can’t compete.

In essence, many of these independent stores have had no other alternative but to cease trading and close down, with locals themselves drawing reference to the fact that nowadays these areas feel like nothing more than ghost towns. From shop owners to local residents, this unfortunate turn of events is neither beneficial, nor basically nice, for anybody to see and experience. This is why Mary Portas currently wants to help to ameliorate the problem.  

Who is Mary Portas?

In Britain, Mary Portas is a leading celebrity retail marketing consultant, famous for helping to turn dwindling independent stores and businesses into desirable destinations once more. Her successful portfolio of projects has led to her being dubbed as the Queen of Shops.

Mary Portas’ Proposals

In order to help to solve the problem of ghost towns, Mary recently submitted a list of proposals to the government which aim to rejuvenate the damaged British high-street. Most of which have been accepted, and she’s received funding to put her plans into action as quickly as possible. Amongst her proposals, she most importantly aims to revive empty shops and to introduce local market days, which will act as a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their designs.

Who will become Pilot Towns?

To determine which towns were most deserving of a slice of the one million pound funding, Mary launched a completion asking local councils to propose blueprints highlighting how they would transform their high-streets. In total, 370 councils applied with Mary so far selecting 12 winners to become pilot towns. The winners included Nelson in east Lancashire, which has a higher proportion of rundown shops than almost any other part of the UK, as well as Kate Moss’ hometown, Croydon.

The initiative may only be in its early stages, but rest assured that we will be keeping an eye on the rejuvenation of these areas and hopefully visiting one of the proposed market days to give you a real insight into true British independent labels.