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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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Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine