A FASHION guru who made a living selling flared jeans and velvet jackets to celebrities, such as the late Leonard Rossiter, is turning his hand to helping up-and-coming businesses.

Gil Jones is the new chairman of Preston Business Venture, a government-backed scheme which supports small firms as they start up.

Gil of Lower Bank Road, Fulwood, will be remembered by the fashion-conscious for his menswear shop, Mister Jones, the first retail outlet in the Guild Hall Centre back in 1972.

The clothes were designed by a London company which dressed John Lennon and provided him with the white suit for the cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

He said: "It's all about contacts really.

"I started as a floorwalker and buyer for various departments stores and met a lot of people.

"It was all velvet jackets and flares back then. I used to wear high heels and fall off them.

"It was exclusive male fashion and Leonard Rossiter was a customer."

He then set up a chain of clothing stores known as Famous Seconds, before taking up a senior position as North West co-ordinator for the Government's Small Firm's Service.

"They say if you want a job doing, give it to a busy man," he said.

Gil is on the Lancashire board of The Prince's Trust and over the years he has helped more than 10,000 entrepreneurs launch their businesses. The father-of-two said: "Preston is a city now and a great place to be.

"There are a lot of opportunities here and a lot of support with courses and advice on offer to those who are considering setting up.

"I am delighted to be the chairman and hope to help more people establish their business."

Call Preston Business Venture on 01772 825723.