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Cut-price private schools, Supermarket merger, Debenhams under pressure

What kind of private education would you expect for just £52 a week? The bosses behind the planned merger of Asda and Sainsbury's, and Debenhams issues another profit warning.

Less than seven per cent of children in the UK go to private schools. The costs vary, with average fees of around £17,000 a year. But a new kind of school is opening in Durham soon, offering a private education at a much lower price. The idea is that if you cut out the frills, such as sports facilities and expansive grounds, then it's possible to offer a quality education at a budget price. The Independent Grammar School says it will offer a traditional education for just £52 a week. We examine if it is really possible to provide a quality education at such a low price.

Today the chief executives of Asda and Sainsbury's will be questioned by MPs about their plans to merge the companies and create a new and huge grocery firm. If the merger goes ahead, the company will be even bigger than Tesco. Today MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will raise concerns about how such a merger will affect prices. They will also raise concerns that the new company could use its bargaining power to drive down the amount it pays to suppliers and farmers.

Debenhams has, for a third time this year, warned that its profits will be lower than expected. The department store blamed "increased competitor discounting and weakness in key markets" for the shortfall. This latest warning comes despite a turnaround plan which was designed to cut costs and boost sales. The chief executive Sergio Bucher pointed to "exceptionally difficult times in UK retail". Debenhams is a cornerstone of many British town and city centres. We ask why the company is struggling and how well equipped it is to weather the storm in the UK's retail sector.

Producer: Jonathan Hallewell
Presenter: Winifred Robinson.

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45 minutes


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