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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.

Theatre: It's a right royal scandal, ma'am

LOVE UPON THE THRONE

Investment: Dowdy show at House of Fraser

THINGS DO not look too smart for House of Fraser. The department store group is running hard to stand still in a tough high street trading environment.

Six Of The Best ways to pull out the cork

Profi Monopol long lever corkscrew, pounds 32, House of Fraser (0171 963 2000)

House of Fraser to fight lawsuit by Linea

HOUSE of Fraser, the department store group, is to fight a legal action against it by the fashion retailer Linea. The London-based Italian fashion boutique has alleged its business has suffered since House of Fraser launched its in-house brand, also called Linea.

Blue Chip: Debenhams looks like a bargain buy

DEBENHAMS is the well-known department store group spun out of Burton Group - which has since been renamed Arcadia - in January to go its own way. Last week, it announced its maiden set of interim figures, and what a solid performance it turned in. Alongside a sharp rise in profits, it announced an aggressive programme of opening new stores.

Merlyn Nuttall wins 1998 Cosmopolitan/House of Fraser Achievement Awards

Brave heart: Merlyn Nuttall, who was yesterday named the winner of the 1998 Cosmopolitan/House of Fraser Achievement Awards.

House of Fraser shares leap as profits double

SHARES in House of Fraser rebounded yesterday after the department store group reporting a near doubling of profits last year. The retailer, which has 51 stores, reported pre-tax profits after exceptional items of pounds 28.3m in the 53 weeks to 31 January, up 91 per cent from the previous year and within analysts' expectations.

Fashion: She's all right, Jack

Melanie Rickey checks out hassle-free shopping at the high street's next big thing. Photography by Sheridan Morley

Where Cindy, Gillian and Geena get a cut above

Can Michael diCesare do for you what he does for some of the sexiest heads in Hollywood? Belinda Morris reports

House of Fraser plans pounds 300m expansion

House of Fraser is planning to open another 30 department stores as part of an ambitious pounds 300m expansion plan, in a move designed to seal the recovery of the up-market department store operator after years in the doldrums.

Poor Christmas at Argos prompts job cutbacks

Argos, the catalogue retailer, is cutting 230 jobs as part of a `fundamental review of costs' after it reported disappointing Christmas sales for the second year running. Nigel Cope, City Correspondent, reports on the decline of a former stock market star.

The Investment Column: House of Fraser recovery in train

After years of what seemed like unending misery House of Fraser finally shown the green shoots of recovery in 1997. Its new own label ranges are taking off, some of its worst department stores have been revamped or earmarked for sale, stock problems have largely been eradicated and margins are on the rise. The City has embraced the good news and the share price which has had a great run.

Record sales bargains attract record turnout

Britons had barely digested their turkey before they started queueing outside stores in order to get a headstart in the sales. From 6am yesterday - three hours before stores opened - consumers were standing on pavements preparing to descend on the biggest January sales in years. It was a record turnout, for record reductions.

The tragedy and the intrigue

Good Times, Bad Times: The Business Personalities Of The Year

You're never alone with a boa

Get the look and get it right: Where would we be without the feather boa? You can wear practically anything, a pounds 1,000 dress, an old rag from What She Wants, but coil a feather boa around your neck and the world is your friend and you take on the coquettish qualities of a young Barbara Windsor. Accessories are fabulous things: for not that much you can play away to your heart's content and dress up a rather tired old outfit. I'm not even going to give you my usual 'Don't over do it on the accessories'
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University Edible Garden, Leeds – a sustainable garden in the centre of the university, passers-by can help themselves to the home-grown produce
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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
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz