Retailer and turnaround specialist Bill Grimsey slams well-known consultant in PCR interview

Mary Portas Review “papering over the cracks”

Retailer and turnaround specialist Bill Grimsey has told PCR that well-known consultant and broadcaster Mary Portas will not save the High Street.

Portas conducted the Portas Review a few years back on the state of the UK’s High Streets and town centres, and Grimsey published his own review last year.

When asked by PCR what he thinks is incorrect about Portas’ statements and the suggestions she laid out to government a couple of years ago, Grimsey replied: "The things suggested there are not necessarily wrong, but they’re not gonna solve the problem. It’s what we call papering over the cracks. They’re cosmetic and mostly they are designed to grab headlines for what is a celebrity. And that we think is wrong.

"The Grimsey review was written because we were concerned that the Government’s move to actually get the review done was being used as a way of driving a TV show and income for an individual. If you read the Portas review it’s all about ‘me’ and ‘I’ – wheras the Grimsey review is all about a team of nine people. It’s full of ‘we’ and ‘us’. That’s the significant difference here.

"We’re not interested in just the quick fixes and papering over the cracks because eventually the cracks reappear. We want to get to the root of the structural changes that are impacting society – as a consequence of 21st century technology and the way we as consumers are changing. That’s the bit that needs to be recognised and that’s how we’re gonna make a difference if we use some of the recommendations that we’ve come up with."

Grimsey also criticised the Government for not doing enough to help indies, saying MP Brandon Lewis has "not got enough clout". He plans to convince other political parties to take action.

"Unfortunately the Government is hell bent on sticking with the Mary Portas review and as a consequence we’ve not going to get some of these serious things addressed," he added.

"So we need to convince other political parties perhaps top pick this up and run with it. Because I do think the next general election in May 2015, the High Street and town centres will be high on the agenda for the manifesto. So if I can’t get this government to look at it I’ll have to take it elsewhere."

Read the full exclusive interview in the January issue of PCR – you can subscribe to the print version here or view the digital edition here

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