Not just for Christmas. A year from the Portas Review, high streets need more than decoration #portas1year

PRESS RELEASE: Call for central and local government to demonstrate focused, informed and long term leadership to build on the foundations of local action that have been laid.

To mark the first anniversary of the publication of the Portas Review national charity AMT – which operates the Towns Alive programme of support for towns across the UK – and think tank Urban Pollinators today publishes a new outline of how to help struggling towns and high streets.


The organisations have brought together a range of collaborators to reflect on how town centres and high streets have made progress since the publication of Mary Portas’ Review in December 2013 under the ‘Portas one year on’ banner (and #portas1year hashtag on twitter). They reflect on the biggest challenges and opportunities – and how to achieve their ambitions.

In a joint statement, AMT and Urban Pollinators say:

“High streets and town centres remain firmly on the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments’ agendas. It’s encouraging that so much local action is taking place and that people are starting to take ownership of the agenda, but this still needs to be translated into visions for change at a national and at local levels – what we do have is not yet adequate.

“There is a high risk that the goodwill generated through the Portas Review will be  lost if action to support town centres is undermined by public funding cuts, poor planning decisions and business decisions that fail to take the wider context into account.

“Town centres continue to face significant challenges; many remain in crisis. The Portas Review is just a first step; now central and local government need to become more focused and develop realistic long term ambitions for town centres. And towns need to embrace every opportunity they can to take control of their futures.”

Coinciding with the anniversary, AMT has launched a new campaign, Town Centre First WATCH (#TCFwatch on twitter). AMT’s chief executive Chris Wade says “Rigorous application of the revised Town Centre First policy is crucial to the future of towns and high streets.”

Other contributions to Portas one year on cover:

  • consumer revolution, retail evolution, and innovation – how the high street and its retail businesses can embrace new technologies and innovate as a practical way to increase sales;
  • using neighbourhood planning to foster engagement between community and high street;
  • opportunities from empty space and pop-up shops which can test ideas and allow creative ideas to flourish;
  • why the business rates issue – a “flawed and outdated business rate mode that now damages the high street” – is of such importance;
  • and from ‘me’ towns to ‘we’ towns – an overview weaving together 3 key challenges and 3 key opportunities for town centres, adding long term ambitions and thoughts on how to achieve these.

Chris Wade adds: “The Portas Pilot towns are a welcome and high profile experiment to show what can be achieved at a local level.  On  the anniversary of the publication of Mary Portas’ Review, it’s clear that such local action has to happen within the context of wider national and systemic change and that central and local government must demonstrate focused, informed and long term leadership to build on the foundations that have been laid.”

Portas Review, one year on is available to view at http://towns.org.uk/2012/12/12/portas-review-one-year-on

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About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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