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Mary is the founder and chief creative officer of Portas. Before Mary founded the agency a little over twenty years ago, she made an indelible mark on British retail.

Mary started out her career at Harrods and Topshop before making her name as the Creative Director of Harvey Nichols. Here, Mary was on the board by her early thirties and worked hard to transform the department store into London’s sexiest fashion destination.

Mary is known to the nation as Mary Queen of Shops from the award-winning TV series for the BBC.

Mary is a regular contributor to national media on retail and consumerism, she has published three books, advised the Government on the future of High Streets with a report created by Portas, launched her own fashion label as well as kickstarting the return of British manufacturing with her brand Kinky Knickers.  

Mary’s proudest achievement to date is the creation of Mary’s Living and Giving shops for Save The Children. Currently the most profitable charity shops in the UK, she has opened 25 and counting and has raised  over £ 13 million to date. Work Like a Woman is Mary’s latest book and a manifesto set to change workplace culture. Internally at Portas it’s called POP culture. You can order Work Like a Woman here.


Mary’s work is fuelled by the talent and expertise of the people of Portas. Working on an international level, the business advises clients from every continent, covering every sector of the retail industry and beyond, from mass-market brands to high-end luxury, across fashion, beauty, hotels, airports, Malls and Real Estate Place-making. 

Distinguished by an unrelenting focus on people and the cultural influences that shape their lives, Mary and her diverse team of strategists, designers and creatives have built made to-measure  concepts that marry the key tenets of intelligence, instinct and insight. 

Westfield, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes, Gap, Liberty, L’Oreal, Sainsburys, Body Shop, Churches, Estée Lauder to name but a few have all had the Portas magic.

Portas believe that understanding today’s fluid consumers is at the heart of great selling and shopping. That and a bloody great dollop of intuition, creativity, vision and risk. Otherwise, why bother? 

Work Like a Woman/ POP culture

5 years ago, we rebuilt our agency around the values that matter most to us as people. Internally, we call it our POP culture. To read our managing director Caireen Wackett’s take on it, head to The Drum.

Externally we call it Work Like a Woman and it all started with Mary…

‘The values that mean the most to me are collaboration, empathy, instinct, kindness and trust. Now, these values aren’t always associated with leadership or winning, but they are values which made every one of us feel good. Work Like a Woman is my manifesto for change. In it I share what I’ve learned, and am still learning, to change the way you work. I challenge everyone, women and men – to make the way we work better, where ever that is, and what ever you’re doing. It’s a change that will see female energy and power as the most valuable currency in today’s new world of work. Change only happens when we come together. So it’s time to create an unstoppable force to make it happen. It’s time to #WorkLikeAWoman’

- Mary Portas, founder and chief creative officer, Portas

Order the book here.

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