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Stores discover there's something about Mary

Four struggling independents featured on BBC2 TV series Mary Queen of Shops have seen their sales soar as a result of changes put in place by Mary Portas, who fronts the show.

Ju-Ju in Brighton, One One Seven in Banstead, Surrey, Handmade & Found in Islington, north London and Seen in Doncaster have all reported a dramatic uplift in sales since their episodes aired over the past month.

Footfall and sales at Ju-Ju, the first shop to be featured on the show, rose so quickly in the days following their episode that owners Tim Price and Soly Daneshmand almost ran out of stock.

"Our break-even point is about £2,000 a week," said Price. "We were struggling to make that before the show, but we are well over double that now."

Ruth Llewellyn, co-owner of Handmade & Found, also said trading was strong. "After the programme aired I took more on one Saturday then I had ever taken in a week," she said.

At Seen, which was previously called Homeboy, sales following the programme were between £2,000 and £6,000 higher than before Portas' changes.

Portas advised co-owner Katherine Taylor to take on brands such as Lipsy and Arrogant Cat and to employ a designer to make one-off pieces exclusively for the store. "She makes your shop special," said Taylor. "She makes it a destination buy."

Diana Lazzaris, owner of One One Seven, said the show was inspiring independents across the country to re-evaluate their offers.

Mary Queen of Shops, in which ex-Harvey Nichols marketing boss Portas transforms struggling businesses, will air for a second series.

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