If you can’t beat them - join them, just ask Mike Coupe

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em. That’s always been my way, and I was very excited to see the news this week that Mr Lewis is about to set up a discounter chain. After all, lots of other people have done this kind of thing. I’m quite sure I remember Mr Leahy and Mr Brasher announcing ’Britain’s Biggest Discounter’ way back when, and then of course there was Mr Coupe’s joint venture with Netto.

I’m not absolutely sure what happened to those, but I’m sure they must have been quite a success or there would be no incentive for Mr Lewis to try the same thing. I’m not all that worried myself as Pat’s Mart has always offered something very close to a discounter model. Limited range? Tick. Warehouse environment? You got it. Low, low prices? Er… well, a bit like the discounters.

I’m actually particularly happy because if Tesco are concentrating on repelling the German invaders then surely they can’t be competing hard at the convenience end of the market, can they? Every now and then someone from Tesco Express or One Stop stops by and runs a tape measure over my unique business. And sometimes over me, too. And every day I dream of getting an irresistible offer (anything over £200) on my attractive, long-lease (six years) A1 retail unit with wonderful vistas of the service entrance of the QEII Centre and a high net worth customer base that’s in Westminster for up to 32 weeks a year. Or so they claim on their expense forms.

Yes it’s true, readers, this game gets tougher by the week and some days I long to be put out to stud, like Mr King. Well, out to pasture, anyway. I’ve always thought it would be nice to travel around the EU, working here or there in little shops. Oh, hang on a minute…