Former retail tycoon Gerald Ratner today announced his appointment as Head of Advertising at disgraced tabloid, the News of the World.
In a statement on his website, Mr Ratner said: “I got the confirmation letter in the post on Tuesday. Finally, I thought, a chance to get back in the game.
"It’s an incredible time to be joining such a long-standing institution. I’m certain that with me at the helm, the News of the World can look forward to a long and distinguished future. In the meantime, I’d just like to take this opportunity to ask if you have any spare change?”
The News of the World has announced that it will cease publication from this weekend. Regarding Mr Ratner's appointment, a spokesperson for the paper, said: “Oh, fuck off... Alright, alright, he’s starting on Saturday. We’ll probably just get him to hot desk for the first couple of days. Now, fuck off.”
Gerald Ratner is best-remembered for what was considered, until this week, the worst business decision in history. In 1991, he said his jewellery empire was selling goods worth less than the price of a prawn sandwich, which wiped £500m off the value of the company overnight.
Of his famous gaffe, he shrugs and says: “Things have moved on, and besides have you seen what a prawn sandwich goes for these days?”
The fact that major advertisers such as Ford, O2 and Sainsbury’s have quit the paper does not seem to have dampened Mr Ratner’s enthusiasm for the job. He is convinced that his notoriety will help, rather than hinder the paper’s fortunes.
He said: “I know that I will need to make a big impact in a very short space of time, but fortunately I am able to pull in a few favours from my friends in the world of business.
“I’ve already managed to get my hairdresser Snappy Cuts to take out a quarter of a page, and I’ve got a really good feeling about The Shanghai Express and Pete’s Pets.”
However, Mr Ratner acknowledged some disappointment with the lack of interest from other retailers.
“I thought the mobile phone companies would have been all over us,” he admitted. “What a tie-in! And as for the Met! They wouldn’t even take my calls. How's that for irony?”
He refers to the newspaper's imminent closure as a ‘setback’, but admits that he has his sights on greater things. He explained: “Should, for some reason, this position not work out, then I’m sure I can convince the powers-that-remain at News International that I am the perfect guy to steer through their takeover of BSkyB.”