The Queen of Shops passes on her tips to Falkirk

Fashion retail guru Mary Portas
Fashion retail guru Mary Portas

The Queen of shops wants to help Falkirk retailers improve their businesses.

Shopping guru Mary Portas will be offering top tips through a series of masterclasses in coming weeks.

A series of drop-in events and visits will take place across the district to let shop bosses know just exactly what’s going on, as well as the support on offer from Falkirk Council and its partners.

There will also be the chance to bag a bargain by signing up for Mary’s courses at a heavily discounted rate, thanks to funding from the local authority and Skills Development Scotland.

The councillor who heads the district’s economic strategy and development, Adrian Mahoney, said the courses provide “inspiration and lots of top tips” to help retailers deal with tough times.

Mary Portas is probably best known for her ‘Mary, Queen of Shops’ TV series where she has helped fashion stores, charity shops and supermarkets revamp their failing businesses by attracting customers back through the doors.

But she has recently been challenged by Prime Minister David Cameron to undertake an independent review on the Future of the High Street with the aim of helping to “bring back the bustle” to town centres across the country.

A previous Mary Portas workshop run earlier this year in the Falkirk Stadium was well subscribed.

One of those who attended was Donna Struthers, the sales team manager with Boots in High Street, Falkirk.

She said: “I really enjoyed it and the workshop certainly made you think about your customer and looking after them. It makes you look at what is going on round about you, as well as knowing your own business and what you need to do to deliver your part of that business.

“It was definitely aimed at the smaller, independent retailer, as many of the topics are carried out in our in-house training. However, I got a lot out of it and would recommend going along to anyone interested.”

Information sessions are being held at the following venues, followed by masterclasses a few weeks later:

nStenhousemuir, Plough Hotel – August 1-5 with a masterclass on August 17.

nDenny, 97 Church Walk – August 8-12 with a masterclass on August 24

nGrangemouth, 47 La Porte Precinct – August 15-19 with a masterclass on August 31.

nBo’ness, 27 North Street – August 22-26 with a masterclass on September 7.

nFalkirk, 16 Melville Street – August 29 to September 2 with a masterclass on September 14.

Councillor Mahoney said: “Mary is passionate about supporting our high streets and helping independent shops in particular survive the tough retail market during the downturn.

“She has worked with some of the top retailers in Britain – and her TV shows prove that she knows how to turn round businesses and make them more successful. Her masterclasses give everyone the chance to tap these great ideas.

“The courses will feature specially-recorded videos from Mary to inspire retailers. There will also be local experts on hand to give support and extra information. If you’re a local retailer who wants to win more business, I’d encourage you to find out more.”

To find out more about the drop-in sessions or to book a masterclass place, contact Jacquie McArthur on (01324) 590973, e-mail jacquie.mcarthur@falkirk.gov.uk or visit www.falkirkforbusiness.org.