30 March 2012 - 8:54am | posted by | 1 comment

Government approves ‘virtually all’ Mary Portas recommendations

Government approves ‘virtually all’ Mary Portas recommendationsGovernment approves ‘virtually all’ Mary Portas recommendations

Mary Portas is celebrating after the recommendations of her high profile report into how to rejuvenate Britain’s High Street were, largely, accepted by the Government.

Adopting “virtually all” of the recommendations the government has pledged to create dedicated “town teams” to oversee High Streets, managing concerns such as more affordable parking. It will also see the allocation of £10m additional funding to bring empty shops back into use and a bid to reduce red tape.

It will also see the introduction of a National Farmers Day to encourage additional tourism and the establishment of a £1m prize pot for the town which most improves its High Street over the coming 12 months.

Other measures adopted include easing planning rules for the conversion of space above shops into homes and the abolition of centrally-set parking charges.

Minister of State for Communities and Local Government Grant Shapps said: "I'm accepting virtually all of the recommendations from Mary Portas's review, but I'm also going one step further, with a range of measures designed to help local people turn their High Streets into the beating hearts of their communities once again."


3 Apr 2012 - 13:21
nToklo's picture

I find it disappointing that the government recognises nearly all of the Mary Portas Review recommendations and considers them valuable to revitalise the high street shopping ecosystem.

The drive to revitalise the High Street as a retail destination in no way recognises or even acknowledges the trends in retail; trends that clearly show the huge impact on retail driven by online technology. For example, the narrative of Mary Portas’ explanation is that online retail has, in part driven the larger brands from the High Street as their online retail contingent has grown, and that this therefore affords opportunity to the smaller retailers. There is no mention here of the High Street embracing the emerging technologies to facilitate and improve the High Street shopping experience. Online retail and the emerging trends in technology to support retail, are given little to no mention at all in the 28 recommendations. How is this possible?

Albeit hesitantly, citing the need to be even more ambitious, the British Retail Consortium welcoming the Government's response is like the blind leading the blind. If the reader will permit a brief allegory; when looking for water, you don't build a dam and hope it will rain. You go and find the source, seek out the valleys and then build a dam to harness and use the source of water you've found. Ms Portas constantly makes recommendations on how to build a good dam with no regard for the long-term challenges of maintenance or times of drought. Her success thus far, I would suggest, has been by and large due to mass media precipitation and not in providing long-term sustainable solutions for retail.

The wellspring of the future of retail success has to be with the synergy of technology and online channels like mobile - mCommerce, and location technology. None of which is given so much as a nod in the Portas review.

Sure, the government needs to make the high street retail ecosystem more accessible and affordable to retailers and this objective is partly covered in Ms Portas’ suggestions. However, this will not sustain the longer-term objective to keep the high street brick & mortar retail experience vibrant and part of the evolving retail economy - that most certainly includes online technology.

The government investment is a waste of taxpayer money.

On the one hand Mr Cameron is driving forward with Tech City UK (http://bit.ly/eos7kK) initiatives to develop the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of London - which in itself could prove to be incredibly fertile ground for retail solution creativity, and on the other hand we have an antiquated review of retail that may provide some short term momentum but which in no way will provide the ideas to overcome the inertia on the path to sustainable success.

Would it not make more sense to invest in a £1million initiative in to Tech City for the best Retail solution that combines online and brick & mortar requirements, for example?

Anton Gething, Co-founder & Product Director at nToklo March 2012


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