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Mary Portas praises Rotherham’s retail renaissance

posted 8 Sep 2011, 07:10 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 8 Sep 2011, 07:25 ]
Mary “Queen of Shops” Portas was positive for the future retail prospects in Rotherham after meeting local businesses and touring the town centre as part of her nationwide review of town centre retail activities.

She congratulated Rotherham Borough Council for getting new retailers on their feet, saying; “I have seen a lot of new traders and they have been grateful to Rotherham Council for actually getting behind them. To bring new retailers back into town requires financial support, management support and business support, which I found quite inspiring.

“Some of the retailers I thought, honestly, were better than some in the heart of London, which I found astounding.

She particularly singled out Gemma Nemer and her creative business, The Button Tin, for praise, saying: “the girl that’s got all the vintage (apparel) that does the teas, what she’s done, along with the tea shop (Shocolat) and the sweet shop (Whistle Stop Sweet Shop), actually created retailing that’s about a real experience and service, which is something we’ve lost.

Mary added; “I’m actually disappointed that I didn’t get chance to shop in Rotherham. I love the fact that I stood in the market and the things that we need in life, which you just do not see any more, were there.

“Rotherham looks really good. There’s some (towns) I’ve seen I just probably think there isn’t a future for. (Rotherham) looks like one that will get itself back up.”

Mary, who turned Harvey Nichols into a household name before breaking into the national conscious with her BBC2 programme, Mary Queen of Shops, is undertaking an independent review to identify what government, businesses, local authorities and local enterprise partnerships can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.

Councillor Roger Stone, Leader of Rotherham MBC, said: “It’s been a pleasure to welcome Mary to Rotherham today and we’re delighted with her response to what we are looking to achieve here. It is great to have some independent support for everything we are all doing in the town centre.

“Mary has confirmed our belief that the town is on the up and she is now taking forward the message that Rotherham is an area of best practice when it comes to regeneration. She has clearly been impressed by the variety on offer here and also by what we as a Council are doing and how we’ve got a grip on the challenges the town has had to face.”

Mary’s review of the state of Britain’s high street’s, which will go to David Cameron later this year, aims to address the problem of vacant shops, the perceived problem of “clone towns” and increase the number of small and independent retailers in town centres.

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