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Portas Pilot store closes for revamp

A Margate department store that was the centre piece of the town’s Portas Pilot plan has closed for a revamp after “going downhill like a toboggan”.

According to the Daily Mirror, Poportunity, a pop-up department store housing 20 stores including handmade clothes, will close temporarily next month just eight months after it was opened.

The overhaul comes as self-styled retail guru Mary Portas is set to launch her latest TV foray, Mary Queen of the High Street, which sees her return to three Portas Pilot towns to see how funding has changed the town. It airs on Channel 4 next week.

Poportunity formed the centrepiece of Margate Town Team’s bid for funding but it struggled in the tough economic climate. Richard Ash, chair of the Town Team, told the Daily Mirror: “The graph plotting Poportunity’s progress has been going ­downhill like a toboggan since October.”

Wanda Rogers, who launched Poportunity but has since left, said it was forced to open early to tie-in with when Portas was in town.

The news will feed growing uncertainty over the credibility of the Portas Pilots as Retail Week reports that half of the second wave of pilot towns have not spent a penny of the £1.5m funding awarded by the government.

Of the 15 towns in the second round, only Lewisham has spent the whole of its allocated funding and six towns have yet to spend any of the £100,000 five to them last July. This includes the Roman Road pilot, which will feature in the first installment of Portas’s new show, and Brighton.

Just 13% of the towns in the second wave have spent any cash and, it was revealed in February, the first group of Portas Pilots spent just 12%.

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