Entrepreneurs Philip Green and Stuart Rose - who became engaged in an infamous takeover battle over department store chain Marks & Spencer last year - are putting their differences aside to support a new UK fashion retail academy.

The academy, an idea thought up by Green, is hoped to set the precedence for around a dozen academies in total to be set up as joint ventures between the government and UK businesses.

Green - a long-established high-street mogul who made several unsuccessful bids for Rose's business M&S - is investing £10 million of his own funds into the project, while the government's Department for Education and Skills is said to be spending a similar amount.

The venture aims to provide a "training ground for young entrepreneurial talent", according to Green.

Green - who owns the Arcadia retail giant which will fund the £10m investment, as well as the Bhs department store chain - wants other retail bosses to back the project, and confirmed that M&S had already said it would provide support.
The academy will be based in central London and is planned to open this autumn. Initially, 60 students aged 16-18 will be taken on, but the total figure is expected to gradually rise to a total of 350.

Students will be offered two qualifications as part of a curriculum created with the London College of Fashion, with the hope that they will go on to join established fashion retailers or, in some cases, set up their own businesses.

Green has in the past attacked the retail industry for the lack of training available for would-be entrepreneurs and says the academy will teach "fundamental skills" unattainable elsewhere, helping to provide a "conveyor belt" of new talent.

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said that the academy will "promote fashion retail as a career, and will deliver a flow of young people to the industry with excellent skills."