News story

High street giant offers boost to Portas Pilots

Leading retailer to offer support to first 12 Town Teams A leading High Street business is joining forces with Local Government Minister Grant…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Leading retailer to offer support to first 12 Town Teams

A leading High Street business is joining forces with Local Government Minister Grant Shapps, and retail guru Mary Portas, to help champion the nation’s high streets.

Alex Gourlay, Chief Executive, Boots UK, will offer vital advice and support to Mary Portas and the 12 ‘Portas Pilots’, as they take forward their plans to bring their town centres back to life.

Mr Shapps said this kind of corporate backing would give the Town Teams in these areas access to “knowledge and expertise built up over decades of experience”.

The British Independent Retailers Association will also work closely with Mary and the Portas Pilots to offer their expertise and support.

More retailers are expected to join forces with Grant Shapps and Mary Portas in the coming weeks and months.

This support will be offered not only to these first 12 winning Portas Pilots but also to the next 15 winning pilots due to be announced before the end of July.

This will be a shot in the arm to the campaign to revive high streets across the country, and comes as the 12 winning Town Teams met with the Minister and Mary Portas for the first time, to share their ideas and gain valuable feedback and advice.

This will be the first in a series of workshops taking place over the coming months, giving all pilots the opportunity to share their ideas and experiences, as well as gaining valuable advice.

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said:

Boots is a stalwart of our high streets, with knowledge and expertise that has been developed over decades of experience.

Our 12 winning Portas Pilots will be able to tap into this valuable resource as they seek to support their local shops, but also explore other ways that their town centres can become the heart of their communities once again.

I look forward to meeting the town teams and hearing first hand how they plan to use this and the other help at their disposal.

Mary Portas said:

I’m delighted that our efforts to revive the nation’s high streets will be boosted by the knowledge and experience of these leading retailers.

Alex Gourlay, Chief Executive of the Health and Beauty Division of Alliance Boots said:

There has never been a more important time for government and business to take an active interest in how local high streets are run and managed. These 12 towns will be delighted to hear the news that they have been selected.

“Mary Portas has brought a personal energy and drive to the programme which can only benefit the 12 pilot towns. Business in the Community has brought a number of us together to discuss how we can help Mary and her team and we’ll continue to explore what practical means of support we can give.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The first 12 Portas Pilots were announced on 26 May 2012. They are:
  • Bedford, Bedfordshire
  • Croydon, Greater London
  • Dartford, Kent
  • Bedminster, Bristol
  • Liskeard, Cornwall
  • Margate, Kent
  • Market Rasen, Lincolnshire
  • Nelson, Lancashire
  • Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland
  • Stockport, Greater Manchester
  • Stockton on Tees, Teesside
  • Wolverhampton, West Midlands.

A total of 371 Towns applied to be Portas Pilots. Further details can be found at:

  1. Business in the Community will work with Boots UK and other organisations to help support the first 12 Portas Pilots, as well as the next 15, due to be announced before the end of July.
Published 25 June 2012