Miliband to brand VAT rise 'wrong tax at wrong time'

With high streets braced for a last-minute shopping rush today before the rate of VAT goes up, Ed Miliband will warn that the increase will cost the average family £7.50 a week.

Last-minute buyers gear up for busiest shopping day of the year

After days in which their shop fronts have been bound with snow, retailers are hoping for a shower of last-minute present-buyers on what is expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year.

Uniserve imports export firm to create £255m distributor

A distribution supplier to well-known high-street chains, including Marks & Spencer, Monsoon and Debenhams, has created a business with a joint turnover of around £255m by buying a 50 per cent stake in a Birmingham-based export business.

The Bargain Hunter: Nine days left at Amazon

Amazon.co.uk has launched a "12 days of Christmas" sale, with savings of up to 65 per cent on books, toys, aftershave, watches and jewellery.

M&B in new phase of pub sell-off plan

Chairman John Lovering looks to offload 53 'franchise' properties by the new year

Carl Leaver is new Gala boss

Gala Coral has hired a former director at Marks & Spencer to lead the gambling group, and the chief executive of Debenhams to become its new chairman.

Blacks defends CVAs as suitors line up for group

The chief executive of Blacks Leisure has launched a vigorous defence of the insolvency procedure that saved the outdoor retail specialist from collapse last year, as a smaller 27-store rival retailer Go Outdoors emerged as a bidder for the company.

Last Night's TV: The Apprentice/BBC1; Buried Alive: Chilean Miners/Channel 4

The science museum," mused Jamie in The Apprentice, trying to work out what the location of their briefing might tell them about the task ahead. "It's either going to be something to do with science... or museums." He'll go a long way with a mind like that – though in the event it was neither, the venue having been chosen because it was crammed with inventions "which have made millions for those brave enough to back them". (Does the Science Museum contain an Amstrad E-m@iler? And if not, isn't it time this significant gap in their holdings was put right by some anonymous donor?) This week, both teams were being given the opportunity to play at Dragons' Den, auditioning eager inventors and selecting two products to try and sell on to retailers. They passed on the laser-light wrinkle reducer (which looked like a wearable microwave oven) and the electronic slouch preventer (it nags at you every time you slump, like a miniaturised mother) in favour of – among other things – a T-shirt with built in six-pack and a baby-grow that changed colour if the child wearing it got too hot.

Profits triple at Go Outdoors

Go Outdoors, the camping and clothing specialist, more than tripled its profits and nearly doubled its sales last year.

The Bargain Hunter: The big Blue Cross sale

This week saw the launch of yet another Blue Cross sale at Debenhams, with up to 70 per cent off products across the store. Some of the best savings are to be found in the homewares department, with items such as the Bergen bonded leather recliner, reduced from £500 to £224, an Amelia bathroom towel set, down from £32 to £9.60, and the Clusterdown orthopaedic contoured pillow, reduced from £36 to £10.80, proving the top-selling items so far. Head over to http://ind.pn/bWzC4I for a full list of discounts.

Debenhams brings back dividend

The department store Debenhams has revealed it will reintroduce its dividend after a two-year hiatus, as it posted a sharp uplift in full-year profits.

Retail sales 'weaker than expected'

Retail sales volumes were weaker than expected in September, official figures showed today, as anxiety ahead of the Government's deficit-busting cuts deepened.

Kurt Geiger profits rise as it feeds shoe 'addiction'

Premium footwear retailer Kurt Geiger, which currently sells 10 pairs of shoes every minute, lifted underlying profits by a fifth in 2009, and expects to do even better this year.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
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The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
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'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
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Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
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Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
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Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
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Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

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Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

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