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Mike Ashley once boasted he had “balls of steel”. Frankly, for anyone else to spend £45 million on shares in Debenhams after its Christmas drubbing, you’d need them.

Fashion: Spend, spend, spend and sparkle

This is a time of year when you want to stand out, so as long as your outfit shines in every sense, you'll see the century out in style.

Hamilton downfall `caused by his bid to help Fayed' says QC

THE "TRAGEDY" of Neil Hamilton was that his downfall stemmed from trying to help the Harrods boss, Mohamed Al Fayed, the former Tory MP's QC said yesterday.

The Investment Column: Allders

ALLDERS, THE department store group, is not the most exciting of retailers but it has had an action-packed few months. Merger talks with House of Fraser collapsed in October as the City forced HoF's share price into the abyss.

The Investment Column: House of Fraser

LIFE IS tough out there on the high street and House of Fraser provided further evidence of the gloom yesterday. Half-year figures at the department store retailer were not a pretty sight. Operating losses increased from pounds 2.8m to pounds 4m and underlying sales fell 2.4 per cent. Current trading is even worse - same store sales are down 5 per cent.

House of Fraser's growing appetite for purchases puts Allders into play

HOUSE OF FRASER, the chain whose stores include Army & Navy, Barkers and Howells of Cardiff, yesterday increased speculation that it is poised to launch a pounds 140m bid for rival Allders by confirming it is holding a review of its business that could lead to acquisitions.

Facelift removes DH Evans

THE NAME DH Evans is to disappear from Oxford Street in London after 144 years of trading, as part of a pounds 12m revamp of the faded store.

The 50 Best; SUMMERTIME, AND THE DRESSING IS EASY

Summer-holiday dressing is one of those things women both love and hate. It should be fun forgetting about grim office uniforms and buying clothes simply for larking about in; but then there's the grief inherent in choosing clothes that - horror! - show off all your bumpy bits. So our expert stylist Lizzy Shepherd has done the legwork for you, choosing the best key summer gear: itty-bitty sundresses, sassy swimwear, vital separates - and plenty of finishing touches. Stay cool... Photographs by John Knock

Comment: Right of Reply - Mohamed Al Fayed

The owner of Harrods responds to a leading article on his application for British citizenship

Cooler shakers; tried & tested

A cocktail shaker should be one part functional, three parts decadent, and capable of transforming even the most unlikely combination of liquids into an exotic concoction. Happily twirling their miniature umbrellas at the prospect of being shaken and stirred were Mathew Iredale, Charlotte Hastings, Lucio Venanzi, Will Iredale, Kezia Comisky and Viv Gilchrist. Barman Richard Preston did the professional road test, and ensured that the Vodka Collins and Manhattans were drinkable. They all hoped to avoid leaks, drips and losing their grip - and, more importantly, their cool

House of Fraser warns of price war

JOHN COLEMAN, the chief executive of House of Fraser, yesterday warned that the recent troubles at Marks & Spencer could damage other department store chains.

Clothing sales battle is set to intensify

BRITAIN'S clothing market is on the verge of a major shakeup as competition in the high street intensifies, a new survey claims today.

Market Report: Bid rumours boost House of Fraser shares

STOCK MARKET professionals, who should have waxed rich on the flow of mega-mergers which have sent shares soaring, concentrated on a more mundane deal, worth a mere pounds 230m or so.

Retail shares dive on Christmas trading reports

SHARES IN the retail sector took a pounding yesterday after a series of gloomy Christmas trading statements underscored the tough conditions on the high street.

This week's diary

TODAY

Shopping: Shoptalk

IF YOU feel you need to get back in shape in the New Year, give yourself a beauty break without breaking into sweat with a professional aromatherapy facial. Decleor is offering Independent readers a facial at its in-store beauty rooms for pounds 15 during January, instead of the usual price of pounds 35. As well as receiving a set of miniature specialist samples for your skin type, the cost of the facial will be redeemable against the purchase of any two or more of Decleor's natural products.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?