Business Diary: Singing ties set to make a comeback

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The Independent Online

The tie can be conspicuous by its absence in all but the stiffest and most formal of offices these days. But this could all change, thanks to Thomas Pink. The upmarket brand has launched the "commuter tie" with a pocket for an iPod underneath. The silk woven tie, priced at £55, is designed to "store gadgets safely and stylishly" and fits the new iPod Nano, as well as other MP3 devices, says the retailer. It even has an extra fabric loop that keeps wires out of sight and close to the body. Such secret features could make it a winner for idle traders at a time when the markets are in disarray and trading levels are on the floor.

Retailers and Mandy set for food fight?

Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, looks set for a hot reception at the British Retail Consortium dinner tonight. The BRC will demand an "end to wish-list politics" and call on the next government to end four proposed taxes. Luke Mayhew, the BRC chairman, will say: "I make a plea that, whether it's hiking National Insurance or a supermarket ombudsman or carrier bag 'taxes' – current and future ministers really do the maths and assess the real economic cost and returns." The menu is unclear, but we are sure that green custard, which a protester threw at the Lord a few months ago, will not be served.

Paddy Power serves up odds for Guinness fest

Ahead of the 250th anniversary of Arthur Guinness creating the world's most famous stout on 24 September, the bookie Paddy Power has placed odds on how many pints of the black stuff will be drunk on Thursday. It is offering odds of 4/1 that Londoners will quaff more than 3 million pints. In Dublin, Paddy Power reckons the most likely option is that between 200,001 and 300,000 pints will be consumed at odds of 5/2. After a petition to secure Arthur's Day as a public holiday, Paddy Power is betting on another PR opportunity by offering 12/1 that it happens.

Hamsters keep memory of Woolies alive

As the anniversary of the collapse of Woolworths approaches, one retailer is keen to prove that it's not all doom and gloom. Shop Direct, which bought Woolworths.com earlier this year, said it had sold 600 Go Go Pet Hamster toys last week. Ahh!

Number of the day: -2.45%

The return on the hedge fund heavyweight Crispin Odey's short-selling book during August.

businessdiary@independent.co.uk

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