Portas, who runs retail and branding consultancy Yellow Door, has been tasked with identifying what Government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.
She will present the review in autumn to Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Edward Davey, parliamentary undersecretary of state for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
As part of the review Portas will look at the issues of vacant shops, new models for the high street that can fit the needs of the modern shopper, the proliferation of ‘clone towns’, and how to increase the number of small and independent retailers in town centres.
She says, ‘With town-centre vacancy rates doubling over the past two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker. I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of.’
Cameron says, ‘The high street should be at the heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment; so it is vital that we do all we can to ensure they survive.’
He adds, ‘I am confident that [Portas’s] straight-talking, no-nonsense approach will help us to create vibrant and diverse town centres and bring back the bustle to our high streets.’
Portas previously worked as creative director for Harvey Nichols and has worked with designer Callum Lumsden and consultancies including Blacksheep and Sheridan & Co on her Mary Queen of Shops and Mary Portas: Secret Shopper TV shows. She was named in this year’s Design Week Hot 50.