Young Mary Newton, born into a large Irish family in a small Watford semi, was always getting into trouble. When she wasn’t choking back fits of giggles at Holy Communion or eating Chappie dog food for a bet, she was accidentally setting fire to the local school. Mary was a trouble magnet. And, unlike her brothers, somehow she always got caught...
Britain in the 1970s was a world where R White's lemonade was drunk in secret, curry came in a cardboard box marked Vesta and Beanz meant Heinz. In Mary’s family, money was scarce. Clothes were hand-me-downs, holidays a church day out to Hastings and meals were variations on the potato. But these were also good times which revolved around the force of nature that was Theresa, Mary’s mum.
When tragedy unexpectedly blows this world apart, a new chapter in Mary’s life opens up. She takes to the camp and glamour of Harrods window dressing like a duck to water, and Mary, Queen of Shops is born...
Mary Portas is one of the world'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 is the founder of the creative communications agency Portas, which creates award-winning campaigns for brands including Habitat, Clarks and Mercedes-Benz. She regularly travels the world advising on retail strategy and frequently lectures on the theme of brands and retail.
Mary is a fierce protector of the UK's high streets and has previously advised the British government on their future and continues her vociferous campaigning for high streets and communities. As Global Retail Ambassador for Save the Children she is the creator of seventeen Mary's Living & Giving charity shops, after she redefined the charity shop experience to put the local community at its heart, and in doing so raised millions of pounds.
As well as contributing a column to the Telegraph for eight years, Mary has become a household name through her television series, including Mary Queen of Shops and, most recently, Mary Portas: Secret Shopper on Channel 4.