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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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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick