I have been comforting one of my clients all evening after the focus group we staged to test his new oh-so-seasonal/retro/convenience deep-frozen toastable Arctic roll. It didn't go down well

."These people are all idiots," he says. "They're worried about it melting in the toaster but it says 'no mess, no fuss' on the pack. Can't they read?"

They can, of course, but they still don't believe. "Find me a panel of real people who are more gullible!" And so more NPD is doomed to fail.

To cheer him up I pop round the corner to Mr P's for some biscuits. "The leedoing store for alll you ned," as it says in a suspiciously positive internet review. In fact, our local convenience store appears to be on its last legs. "Where's the stock Mr P?" I ask. "There is no life left here," he says enigmatically. Actually, there's a lot of life, mostly behind the chiller cabinets and scuttling along in the gap between the lino and the skirting board. "When did you last clean this floor?" I ask him. "Flash cuts dirt in half for one and sixpence," he says. So, pre-decimalisation then. I try to interest him in a job lot of ex-research toastable Arctic rolls, but that would involve switching on the freezer unit.

"I am just like Ocado," he adds, miserably. It's difficult to see the comparison until he adds: "slowly going broke." But Mr P, demonstrating the true resourcefulness of the independent sector entrepreneur, has a plan.

"I am sending an Ocado delivery to everyone in the flats over the road. Just one tin of fruit cocktail each. Nobody makes any margin on tinned fruit, so this will bring them to their knees."

Who will be out of business first? "I can live on stale ginger nuts," says Mr P.

Since the diet of Messrs Steiner, Gissing and Bracey now includes products from Carrefour, my money's on Ocado.

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