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Joseph Wan, Chief executive, Harvey Nichols

For a while it looked like the credit crunch was happening to everyone except London’s luxury department stores Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

All three bucked the downturn in the first half and customers from the Middle East and Russia ensured sales remained buoyant.

Then came autumn and as the leaves fell, so did a few banks, and the luxury market felt the impact, with Joseph Wan, Harvey Nichols’ chief executive, among them.

Still, if anyone was going to ride out the stormy seas in style it was the debonair Wan, who launched an ad campaign extolling the virtues of the credit crunch. “Now with shorter queues,” it quipped. In an unheard of move, Harvey Nicks joined the retail hoi polloi in its frenzied discounting wave with a 25%-off 12-day Sale.

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