In retail there’s no such thing as a Christmas ceasefire. Except for the day itself, of course, when most of us are too stuffed to move, the festive season is when the fighting is at its fiercest.

Today there was some suitably fighting talk from one of Tesco’s new generals, Richard Brasher. He was touting 2010 as Tesco’s biggest-ever holiday season – and the way he told it, the supermarket’s rivals might as well shut up shop and go home right now.

“We are backing Christmas this year and we are playing to win,” he began, a touch confusingly.

“We have the biggest range, are opening our stores for more hours and are providing more staff to help our customers than ever before.”

It may not go down in history alongside ‘We will fight them on the beaches’, but the message was clear enough. Biggest is best this Christmas, even in ‘austerity Britain’, and nobody is bigger than the boys in blue and white.

“What customers want more than anything is for you to have what they want,” continued the man who will next year become Tesco’s UK chief executive, under new group boss Philip Clarke.

“We check weather forecasts twice a day to make sure we have the right food in stock on any given day. This is more critical at Christmas than at any time of the year.

“Customers want to treat themselves at Christmas. We have expanded our Finest ranges on party food, on frozen and on Christmas products. Finest is now the biggest brand in the UK.”

On it went, and on. Often that sort of rhetoric can hide fear or insecurity, as ‘Fraudley’ Harrison showed the other week. In this case… probably not.

Brasher might be dreaming of a white flag this Christmas, but it won’t be Tesco waving it.

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