Mary Portas effect persuades Save the Children to overhaul its charity shops

Takings more than double at Orpington outlet after BBC's expert takes charge

Income at a Save the Children charity shop has risen by more than 100 per cent after it was featured in the BBC TV show Mary Queen of Charity Shops.

The three-part series, which ended this week, featured retail expert Mary Portas shaking up the working methods at the charity's shop in Orpington, Kent. The store's weekly takings subsequently rose from a recent average of £900 to more than £2,000. Staff believe the programme has also brought in better donations and more customers.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive at Save the Children, said the recession had given the charity the perfect opportunity to make much-needed changes. Whitbread said the charity was now committed to changing its business model at all of its 125  charity shops.

David Moir, head of policy and public affairs at the Association of Charity Shops, said the most important lesson from the programme for charity shops was the D-day: Donate, don't Dump initiative, launched by Portas. The project encourages businesses to designate one day a week on which staff each bring in one item of unwanted clothing to be donated.
"The D-day idea has the real advantage that it actively engages charities, individuals and other organisations," said Moir. "It will increase the profile of charity shops and their absolutely outstanding volunteer teams, and will increase public awareness and - I hope - involvement."

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