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Marks & Spencer has joined retailers trying to lure shoppers on to the high street before Christmas with plans for a flash sale across its stores tomorrow.

Booker crisis looms as shares hit 16-year low

THE PROBLEMS at Booker, the struggling cash-and-carry group, reached new depths yesterday when the company issued the latest in a series of profits warnings, scrapped its final dividend and warned that it was in danger of breaching its banking covenants.

Outlook: Rose throws out the kitchen sink

JUST WHEN everyone thinks it can't possibly get any worse at Booker, it does. Never a company to let a month drift by without a profits warning, the hapless cash-and-carry group treated the market to a corker of a stock exchange announcement yesterday. It had just about everything.

Panel says Argos broke no rules in takeover by GUS

THE THREAT by Great Universal Stores to take legal action over statements made by Argos directors during the pounds 1.9bn bid battle was dealt a blow yesterday when the Takeover Panel said it was satisfied its rules had not been broken. "The Panel regards the matter as closed," it said.

Outlook: Dream team?

STUART ROSE has been linked with more top jobs over the last year than Will Carling has had blond haired women. That's no mean feat, assuming the former England rugby captain's record is more than just fantasy. Many of Mr Rose's supposed dalliances were probably imagined too, but finally, and after several false starts, he seems to have scored.

Booker finds its dream team

BOOKER, THE struggling cash -and-carry operator that has been spurned by two potential bidders in the last two months, claimed to have found "the dream team" yesterday when it named a new chairman and chief executive.

GUS poaches Duddy to be chief

GREAT UNIVERSAL Stores, which swallowed up the high street catalogue chain Argos in a pounds 1.9bn bid earlier this year, has poached Terry Duddy (left) from PC World, an offshoot of Dixons, to head up the operation.

GUS offered Argos chief chance to stay

GREAT Universal Stores, which last month triumphed in its pounds 1.9bn bid for Argos, revealed yesterday that it had offered Stuart Rose the chance to remain as chief executive of the catalogue retailer but that he had turned the offer down.

GUS wins pounds 544m battle for Metromail

GUS, the catalogue retailer, has taken control of Metromail, the American marketing database group, for $910m (pounds 544m) after winning a bitter bid battle with ABI, its US rival.

Outlook: What have you got to lose? Give Rose a go

LORD WOLFSON, the GUS chairman with more witty one-liners than the late Dorothy Parker, seems to have done just enough to win the hand of Argos. Certainly that was the verdict yesterday of the stock market, where the Argos share price slipped below the bid price for the first time since hostilities began.

GUS poised to win with new Argos offer

GREAT UNIVERSAL STORES increased the pressure on Argos yesterday when it raised its offer to 650p per share, valuing the catalogue retailer at pounds 1.9bn. Argos immediately rejected the increased bid as "totally inadequate". However, analysts said the extra cash - up from 570p - was likely to secure victory.

GUS set to raise offer to clinch Argos deal

GREAT Universal Stores, the mail-order group, is this week expected to add up to 80p a share to its offer for Argos in an attempt to clinch its hostile bid for the catalogue retailer.

Argos offers pounds 431m to beat bid

ARGOS, the catalogue retailer, unveiled the final part of its defence against Great Universal Stores' pounds 1.6bn bid yesterday with plans to return pounds 431m to shareholders if they turn down the GUS offer.

GUS bid for Argos gets Beckett OK

THE GOVERNMENT gave the green light to Great Universal Stores' pounds 1.6bn bid for Argos yesterday when Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, accepted the recommendation of the Office of Fair Trading that the deal did not need to be investigated on competition grounds.

Argos enlists Littlewoods

ARGOS unveiled radical plans to modernise its business yesterday after admitting that it had become out of step with customers' needs.

Outlook: First taste of Argos's defence

FOR A retailer that never seems to have moved out of the 1970s, Argos has suddenly come over all designer trendy. Instead of its usual grey presentations the company yesterday hired the London Weekend Television studios to regale audiences with its new retail strategy. There were lots of yellow kettles and bright red vacuum cleaners everywhere and, up on the podium, new chief executive Stuart Rose was reading from his autocue with all the aplomb of a seasoned Oscars presenter. Amazing what a hostile bid can do.
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