MIKE has a problem. His flagship sports store is in need of an overhaul, but he’s not sure his chief checkout manager is the right person to lead it.

He’s good. Even Mike, through his gritted barrow-boy teeth, would have to concede that he’s good. He’s been there for three years now, and even though there have been a few ups and downs, the store has done pretty well for itself. He’s popular with the customers, and respected by his peers. He’s even on some World Checkout Management Forum with his fellow top checkout operators from around the world.

But he’s hard work. Bloody hard work sometimes. Mike only bought him a new pricing gun a year ago – half-price, from China – but he’s already moaning on that it’s not fit for purpose. He wants a new till too. Okay, so the current one keeps sticking and randomly firing out ten-pence pieces at the customers, but so what? He’s the checkout manager, he should be able to sort it.

He’s got ideas above his station as well. He’s worked at some fancy places – Waitrose, M&S, Tesco Extra – and he wants Mike’s store to follow some of the practices he encountered there. It’s madness. This is a cut-price sports shop, not bloody Waitrose. What does a cut-price sports shop need with a click-and-collect service? Oh yeah, and at the last minute, he’s decided he wants a raise.

He’ll have to go, but there’ll be complications. Never mind. Get rid of him. His contract’s up, so it won’t be costly, and checkout managers are ten-a-penny. How hard can it be to run a card machine?

Right, that’s it, he’s gone. Release a pre-emptive statement to ‘Checkout News’ confirming the parting of the ways, and get on with planning for the future. There’s been talk over the last few months of new overseas owners for the sports store, but let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen. Why would Mike willingly walk away? Handy to deflect the flak from this checkout business though.

So, what’s next? Get a list together of checkout guys. There’s plenty out there. Maybe it’s time for a change of direction? Split up the responsibilities a bit. In the future, Mike’s checkout operator won’t be in charge of buying price tags. Leave that to the recruitment team. Mike and his fellow directors will give their new employee his stock, and it’ll be up to him to arrange it properly on the shelves. No more, no less. Simple.

It’s not easy though. There’s a couple of young, up-and-coming checkout managers overseas. They’ve already established quite a reputation, they’d be great, but they know the guy Mike’s just got rid of. Apparently, they’ve spoken to him. He’s warned them off working for Mike, spelled out in excruciating detail the problems with the faulty pricing gun. Bloody hell.

Panic starts to set in. There’s this big sports emporium expo in China. Mike’s getting paid a fortune to promote his store there, but his new checkout man needs to be present, and if he isn’t in his job soon, he’s not going to get a visa.

Right, never mind Plan A, time for Plan B. Who’s available? I know. What about the first checkout guy Mike ever had when he took over the sports shop a decade ago? He didn’t really like the bloke – he sacked him after all – but they were happier times, when Mike could wander the aisles with his customers, oversized mug in hand, laughing and having a joke. Maybe those days could return?

Those days will not be returning. Even though he’s currently out of work – some scandal that made the papers that meant he was forced to give up his dream sportswear role – he knocks Mike back. ‘Not the right time, don’t go back’. He’s got some nerve.

Never mind, there’s this sportswear guy Mike knows working at a high-street chain in Sheffield. He’ll come won’t he? He was brought up just around the corner from Mike’s store, and used to gaze longingly at the leather football boots through the window when he was growing up. It’s always been his dream to run that shop.

Is he any good? Does it matter? Mike’s pretty much got beyond that now. He knows how to handle a pricing gun – admittedly with mixed results, he’s left a couple of his previous stores in a pretty bad way – and compared to the last guy, he’s cheap. He’ll do.

Get him in, get him over to China, and then once he’s back, he can deal with any flak that the customers throw his way. It’s perfect. And best of all, there’ll be no need to replace that bloody pricing gun.