Woodford traders not convinced by Mary Queen of Shops

Traders in South Woodford and Woodford Green are not convinced a review of high streets by a retail guru employed by the government would be effective in their area.

Mary Portas, known as Mary Queen of Shops for her BBC2 TV show of the same name, has been tasked with reversing the fortunes of the country’s businesses and will look at what they can do to develop.

However shop owners raised concerns about the initiative and said the main problem which affected trade was parking.

Mary O’Shea of Broadway Music and Vision in The Broadway, Woodford Green said: “The programme was quite good but they chucked a lot of money at it.

“For example she spent nearly �500,000 revamping stock and retraining staff in one store and I can’t see the government giving her that type of money.

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“In small areas like this the biggest issue is parking and I’m not sure if she would look at things like that.

“Also I don’t know whether changing the look of shop and making it more user-friendly would make a difference because people buy on price and price only”

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Alan Crowhurst of Gales Cameras in High Road, South Woodford said: “This would not be applicable to my business and I don’t think it would work in the area.

“For example I saw her go into a charity shop and change the way it worked which was fine but all the staff left because it was too much for them.

“The only thing that would help trade in this area is changes to parking.”

But Minette Wise, of Sue Ryder Care in The Broadway, Woodford Green backed the idea insisting: “You can’t knock it until you have tried it.”

She said: “We have seen her programme and discussed it in meetings.

“We’re not struggling but any help and suggestions would always be welcome and I definitely think this scheme would help trade in the area”

Miss Portas is credited with turning around the fortunes of Harvey Nichols and now runs a communications agency.

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