Some 20 years ago, McDonald's despatched a team to Britain to reconnoitre the hamburger market in Britain prior to the Big Mac invasion. Its first report pointed out that the greasy concoction currently on offer bore no resemblance to the real thing. A crash course of public re-education was essential. When the Japanese tiptoed into automobile manufacture in America back in the mid-80s they must have entertained similar thoughts. Here they were, late entries into the field, discovering that this shrine of mass production was riddled with inefficiencies, over-staffing, deplorable quality and, most of all, a smug indifference towards the consumer.