To the headquarters of Tesco in Cheshunt, where 2014’s annus horribulus for what was once the world’s primary retailer
has ended in a manner worse than anyone could have predicted. Following the previous year’s horsemeat scandal, where 29% of Tesco Value Burgers were scientifically proven to be of equine
origin while the other 71% turned out to consist of something even worse, the flood of horrendous revelations has had a kind of domino effect. First it was revealed that the once-respected retailer
was suffering accountancy fraud at the highest levels, claiming their profits for the half-year would be £263 million higher than they actually were. Now, amid billions wiped off shares, corrupt directors forced to resign and investigations by law firm Freshfields which reveal more illegality by the day, the multinational faces its most terrifying prospect yet – an intervention from Eric Pickles.
“I simply could not stand by and let this glorious 95-year old institution fail.” The roly-poly Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government told a press conference in Hertfordshire. “When I saw the gargantuan levels of incompetence and ill-doing that have persisted in one of my favourite places to do a big shop, I knew it was time to step up to the plate. Some might say I’m going beyond my remit in taking this so personally,
and its true that direct intervention goes against everything I believe in, but in this instance I can only be blunt in my condemnation of everything the previous regime stood for. They
were a bunch of dishonest shits.”
Pickles goes on: “I see the three thousand Tesco stores in this country as a ‘community’, one I’m proud to be part of – although they could do with widening the aisles in some of
their Metro outlets. With my track record turning around Tower Hamlets, I flatter myself I’m the obvious choice to fix the decline of this once-noble British institution.”
In fact, earlier in 2014 Pickles parachuted into East London (not literally) on confirming that the dodgy borough had been taken over by a group of amateur extremists in suits (left); men
who would have brought corruption and terror to the whole of London if only they had been a bit more organised, administratively (and actually
Within days the government’s most massive big beast turned things around in the East End, installing a trio of commissioners who will oversee two years of official appointments,
property deals and grant-giving to ensure there is no repeat of ‘cronyism’ or electoral fraud. This after an official UN report decried Tower Hamlets as “more feudal than agrarian
Belarus” with Pickles achieving the remarkable turnaround at a cost of just a brief tripling in the council’s catering budget. But while these actions had the backing of the fat
man’s bosses in government, this latest ‘pet project’ appears to be a case of Eric going rogue.
“I can confirm the Prime Minister had no knowledge of his secretary’s intervention until Mr Pickles rang Dave up to tell him it had happened.” A government spokesman advised
the media after brunch. “But now the P.M. has satisfied himself that the follow-up letter received from Eric is genuine, the one that states: ‘It’s bona fide mate, straight up
Diddyman – all my pals in the legal trade have wangled this so I’m gonna sort everything out – there’s loads to be assessed at Tesco, particularly in the bakery department.
Unfortunately it means I won’t be able to help you fight the general election but never mind. Yours sincerely, Eric P’.”
“In truth,” The spokesman went on. “I think the P.M. is willing to try anything he can to save Britain’s beleaguered blue and white shopping behemoth. Eric can’t exactly do the
brand any more harm, so why not let him try?”
Word soon spread that Pickles was relocating to a ‘typical’ Tesco superstore in Steeple Bumpstead, Essex (right), where he is trying to understand how
a retailer with a 30% domestic market share and stores in 12 countries can have gone so terribly wrong ‘from the bottom level’. Initial reports
suggested the Communities Secretary was settling in nicely; learning elements of the business that would enable him to ‘steady the ship’ before
returning Tesco to its core values of cheap petrol, subprime mortgages and flogging substandard edibles to people who can’t be arsed to go further up the road where there might be
somewhere better open.
Indeed, Pickles’ efforts were greeted with delight by shareholders, the stock market and boroughs across the country who were hoping he would have less time for his regular job now and leave them the hell alone. But within Tesco itself management types such as Head of IT Allan Antevasia speak for a workforce disturbed by this pattern of official interference.
“I happened to be at head office the day Eric ‘landed’, after our previous Chief Executive was run out of town,” Antevasia (left) told Home Defence. “Pickles immediately started
barking orders at everyone, telling the poor receptionist to get him a pot of coffee and ‘four packets of teacakes – not the cheap ones’ so he could start ‘turning things around’.”
Allan shook his head as he remembered how: “Pickles’ first act was to slash the advertising budget and shelve our festive commercial which was due to feature Myleene Klass
as a CGI-augmented reindeer. Then he replaced the winter billboard design with a close-up of his own grinning head above the logo – ‘Trust me, I am Tesco’.” Antevasia recalls,
clearly appalled. “I ask you, how is an image like that supposed to generate profits? It’ll only traumatise innocent children, and at Christmas too. Now he’s talking about a range
of Value puffer fish and only buying frozen curries from companies that employ Caucasian workers. It’s madness”
HDUK satisfied our curiosity by heading out to see how the local government supremo’s presence was impacting upon staff morale. On arrival at Pickles’ new base in Steeple
Bumpstead one seasonal shelf-stacker, who begged to remain anonymous, told us:
“He’s doing more harm than good you know. The bloke’s only been in situ a week but he’s big enough to get in everyone’s way.” The
female employee (right) then pulled both hands away from her midriff and puffed up her cheeks to emphasize Mr Pickles’ girth
“By closing time yesterday he’d already eaten his way through most of aisle four and this morning I came in for an early shift to find him
passed out in the pie section surrounded by pastry crumbs and partially-gnawed packaging. Two of my colleagues almost did their backs in dragging Eric out the back so we
could open for business. I’m no economist, but I don’t see how eating half our stock can help the situation.”
But as Home Defence was going to press Pickles showed no sign of relinquishing his Essex empire, with reports coming in of the MP’s latest initiative: a price war with rivals
Asda. If this fails to have the desired effect, Pickles is said to be ‘relaxed’ about letting any initial skirmishes develop into actual war, with the help of what he calls “meek,
suggestible and slight” Foreign Secretary, Phil Hammond.