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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.

People & Business: McGowan and Snowdon move into manufacturing

Fresh from selling Burnfield, the hi-tech engineering group, to Fairey at the turn of the year, Brian McGowan and Clive Snowdon have bought into a small manufacturing and distribution company, Umeco.

'One more mistake and I'll go quietly'

Brian McGowan yesterday pledged to "fall on his sword" as chairman of the struggling House of Fraser department store group if the company made any more mistakes.

Investment Column: Putting the House in order

House of Fraser has been such a disaster since its 1994 flotation that shareholders who subscribed for shares in the department store group at 180p must be so battle-scarred that they are almost past caring.

Quant joins House of Fraser board

Mary Quant (pictured right), the British designer who revolutionised fashion with the mini-skirt in the early 1960s, has joined retail group House of Fraser as a non-executive director.

Survival of the slickest

ready to wear: by annalisa barbieri

Hanging by a thread

In the Jan edition of British Vogue, Kate Moss is invited to appear wearing whatever she wants. She chooses nothing other than a pair of dangly earrings. This is a cue for a serious trend. At school, as well as selling 15p reads of The Amityville Horror, I made dangly earrings out of fuse wire, as I'm sure every teenager looking to make their first pounds 5 did. Erickson Beamon does some of the finest dangly jobbies, but can be expensive, so look at Accessorize, Agatha, Top Shop et al for cheaper alternatives. ANNALISA BARBIERI

a vintage season: Fashion

The freshest look this spring draws on the appeal of the classic twinset. Combine original Fifties and Sixties separates from vintage clothes shops with the tiniest of the current, brightly coloured knits. If you want real authenticity - and if you can bear to - wear coloured pop socks, the Nineties equivalent of bobby socks

House of Fraser warns more jobs are in danger

House of Fraser, the struggling department store group, is to sell three stores and cut 1,000 jobs in a radical overhaul. John Coleman, who took over as chief executive last year, said there would be no more store sales but would not rule out any further job losses.

House of Fraser cuts 1,000 jobs

House of Fraser, the troubled owner of the Army & Navy and Dickins & Jones department stores, will tomorrow announce around 1,000 job cuts as part of a sweeping store closure programme.

Good thing

Philippe Starck's 14" portable TV Tilts conveniently so that you can watch it in bed. If you lose the remote control, whistle and it will answer. A sure collector's piece, reduced to pounds 199 from pounds 230.

Burnfield boss snubs chance to make pounds 1.5m from bid

Brian McGowan, the non-executive chairman of Burnfield, the engineering firm facing an unwelcome bid from Fairey Group, has turned down the chance of making pounds 1.5m by accepting the offer and has invested pounds 630,000 of his personal fortune to back the company's rights issue.

Ten for under a tenner

The mad scramble is on for last minute presents and stocking fillers.

Bargain hunters beware

Blue Chip: After a disastrous slump, House of Fraser is still some way from solving its problems

MARKET REPORT: House of Fraser takeover talk stirs lethargic punters

A quiet, uneventful session usually spawns a few takeover bid stories as traders struggle to generate investment interest. With the stock market deep in pre-Budget lethargy retailers found themselves the centre of attention and House of Fraser, the struggling department store chain captured much of the speculation.

Ready to Wear: It's a wrap

A scarf or shawl can make an outfit. Designers such as Georgina von Etzdorf, Nigel Atkinson and Carole Waller dedicate themselves to bringing us innovative fabrics and printing methods. These cost big bucks, but it is important to see glorious scarves as outfits, not just accessories. My friend wore a pounds 2,000 long black evening dress to a ball this summer with a pounds 500 shawl. No one mentioned the dress. The next week she wore it with a pounds 50 Miss Selfridge dress; no one mentioned the dress again. Moral: you can get away with a cheap dress if your shawl costs half a grand. There is something quite delicious about having a chiffon shawl slip off your shoulders to expose a curve of flesh. Sort of a cross between Little House on the Prairie and A Streetcar Named Desire.
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