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


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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Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
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How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
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