So the first episode of Mary Portas' program aired tonight documenting the build up of her very own shop 'Mary'. Collaborating with House of Fraser, the program has seen the retail guru analyse the design process, the initial customer profile and recruit her worthy team. But as she 'trended' on social network site Twitter for the majority of the show, the most suprising part of the program was in fact the way Mary picked and poked at "retail ancestor" House of Fraser.
The first quarter of the show showed Portas attempting to find a solid business retail empire to help take her idea to the next level; she went through John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges before Jaeger Chairman set up a meeting with her only to turn around and say it was too late in the year for them to support her shop (surely Mary new that they would already be a few seasons ahead??)
Mary then contacts John King, House of Fraser Chairman, whilst commentating "Time is running out....I am running out of options..." so she rings good ol' House of Fraser who gladly take her on. In the past, Mary has publicly portrayed her disgrace at the brand's regeneration of the Edinburgh Jenners department store saying "Jenners internal design is absolutely stunning. But it feels like House of Fraser got a hold of it and it's just ended up with a slightly hybrid shop instead of one that is still 'Jenners'. Now it doesn't know what it is – Arthur or Martha."* She then goes onto say House of Fraser itself "could be so much better". (2009)
|And didn't we all know it?!|
So why choose the HOF as a home for her very own shop? A shop, which she says, she will be scrutinized for in every single way possible due to her high profile persona in retail and whether she can really practise what she preaches. The documentary Queen of Frocks then documents Portas prancing around House of Fraser Oxford Street store picking out "hideous" items of clothing from the brand's House Brand departments such as Linea, Dickins and Jones and Episode.
Tensions seemed high during a meeting with the department store's Buying and Design teams. Mary had a clear vision of what products she wanted to sell to her forty something target customer. House of Fraser seemed more interested in what was going to make them money and quickly as opposed to catering to the needs of Mary's customer. But Mary being the strong woman we have all grown to love and admire, stuck to her guns and got what she wanted - obviously.
As episode one came to an end, it was still unclear to see the reason why Mary has chosen the HOF to associate her brand with. Were they really a last resort to home her product? Or is her direct and abrasive judging just Mary's way? I guess we'll find out next week!
Image one taken from www.maryportas.com/queenoffrocks
Image two taken from www.maryportas.com/queenoffrocks
*Quotes sourced from www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com