City Books present an evening with Mary Portas ‘Queen Of Shops’ talking about her new book Shop Girl: A Memoir
Mary Portas is one of the UK’s foremost authorities on retail and brand communication, and is credited with turning Harvey Nichols from a staid department store into a modern fashion powerhouse. She regularly travels around the world advising on retail strategy and frequently lectures on the theme of brands and retail.
Young Mary Newton, born into a large Irish family in a small Watford semi, is always getting into trouble. When she isn’t choking back fits of giggles at Holy Communion or eating Chappie dog food for a bet, she’s accidentally setting fire to the local school. Mary is a trouble magnet and, unlike her brothers, somehow she always gets caught. Britain in the 1970s is a world where R. White’s lemonade is drunk in secret, curry comes in a box marked Vesta and beanz meanz Heinz. In Mary’s family, money is scarce. Clothes are hand-me-downs, holidays are a church day out to Hastings and meals are variations on a potato theme. But these are good times and everything revolves around the force of nature that is Theresa, Mary’s mum. Then tragedy strikes and blows Mary’s world apart. New responsibilities at home mean her ambitions to act are pushed to one side. Instead of RADA, Mary signs up for a local college course in visual merchandising in the hope that it leads to a job in graphics. But things play out unexpectedly, after vowing she doesn’t want to work in a shop for the rest of her life Mary takes to the camp and glamour of dressing displays in Harvey Nichols and Harrods like a duck to water, and Mary, Queen Of Shops, is born.
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. The Portas Review outlined 28 recommendations to rescue failing High Streets. The Government committed £10 million to support the findings of her review.
This special evening will feature a book reading, Q&A session, booking signing, plus first edition copies of Shop Girl: A Memoir available at discount.