Greetings Today magazine, giving you the bigger picture

Meet the queen

Grab your copy of Mary Portas’ latest book as she heads up Autumn Fair seminars


HIGH Street hero Mary Portas is headlining Autumn Fair’s speaker line-up as the Queen Of Shops brings her vision for the future of retail to the season’s biggest show.

And the first 200 visitors to sign up for her In Conversation With Mary Portas session on Monday, September 2, at 2pm, will receive a copy of her latest book Work Like A Woman.
Mary (pictured) said: “Now’s a time for visionaries. The old dinosaurs and faceless corporations are on the out and retailers who place people and community at the heart of their business are on the up.
“I truly believe there’s never been a more exciting time to be in retail and I’m excited to see what’s on offer at Autumn Fair this year.”
More than 22,000 visitors, and 1,300 exhibitors – including around 130 greetings and stationery stands mainly in Hall 6 such as The Art File, Berni Parker Designs, Blue Eyed Sun, Dean Morris Cards, Eco-Friendly Card Co, Emma Ball Ltd, Glick, Handcrafted Card Co, Joe Davies, Lanther Black, Lesser & Pavey, Pioneer Europe, Pyramid International and Rush Design – are expected to descend on the NEC.
The speaker sessions run throughout the show, over Sunday to Wednesday, September 1-4, at the NEC in Birmingham, with retail entrepreneur and former BBC TV Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis (pictured) returning for a candid chat about the ups and downs for retail over the past 12 months and to share insights on useful things small businesses can do to help succeed in the current climate.
An Audience With Theo Paphitis is on the Tuesday at 2pm, while Giftware Association deputy chairman and independent retail advisor Henri Davis, who is also a regular Greetings Today columnist, has a Negotiation Skills: If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get slot on the show’s final day at 10.45am.
With a completely new layout, this year's Autumn Fair plays host to four exciting theatre and workshop spaces, including the Inspiring Retail Stage, Retail Skills Theatre and the Sourcing Theatre, each delivering dedicated retail insight and trend information to help retailers with the all-important Golden Quarter festive sales period and beyond.
Speaking as part of a live Q&A, broadcaster and retail consultant Mary, who was appointed by then Prime Minister David Cameron to lead a review into the future of the British High Street and tried to help struggling independents in her Mary Queen Of Shops TV series, will talk about how retailers should be creating communities out of their loyal customers.
She will also explain to visitors why the sector needs to embrace and value soft skills and more traditional attributes such as empathy, instinct, kindness and trust, and argue that these can be the key to engaging staff and, by implication, consumers.
Julie Driscoll, regional director at Spring & Autumn Fair for owners ITE Group, said: “We’re incredibly excited to be able to announce Mary as a show headliner – she’s been a true champion of the UK retail sector for much of the past two decades.
“She’ll bring a renewed sense of optimism in the Great British High Street to the show, as well as her characteristically unique and creative ideas as to how the sector can improve and grow into its future.”
The full list of thought-provoking seminars and panel discussions, all aimed to inspire and future-proof buying decisions, is available at

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