I love Mary Portas’s Queen of Shops series. Last night’s episode at Lightwater, Surrey shows just how hard it can be to make a change (BBC2 10pm Monday).
Mary has many strengths. Her brusque humanity is one. Her passion is another.
I hardly ever mention numbers in this column, but I would have wanted to see just a simple analysis of profit and turnover by three or four of the different categories of goods sold, for example. I guess they already had this. The shop owner’s concern of losing trade on different lines would be understandable if they made a significant contribution.
In reality the Lightwater shop is a general store probably, rather than a DIY shop. Any number of ideas for change might have worked. It comes down to people though, and what the owner actually wants.
Many owners describe the business as “my baby”. Perhaps we mean it is an expression of ourselves and where we are. Sometimes the “baby” grows up and needs to leave home. It can be really hard to let go.
What I respect most on these shows, is the courage of the people shown. They are prepared to go on national TV and try and learn new skills. If anyone thinks that’s easy, it isn’t!
What I enjoyed most of last night’s episode was Mary Portas’s leadership skills. Two key elements were her ability to believe in people and then to develop them.
In earlier episodes Mary has “done” charity shops, with her flair for high-end fashion, marrying chalk and cheese.
Last night’s DIY makeover was like trying to blend diamonds and chalk!
The skillful editing showed the stylish queen standing out in marked contrast with the ordinary untidiness of a village store. The final scene sees her walking away and in the distance a huge menacing B&Q juggernaut about to bear down and presumably finally swamp the village hardware store.
There is no doubt that Mary herself could make a success of this venture or indeed any other. If only we could bottle this ability.
Great TV. More I say!