In The News

David Sables, CEO, and the Sentinel Team appear regularly on and in various media, commentating and giving insight on industry issues. David is a regular columnist within ‘the Grocer’ magazine, as well as being a contributor to Forbes.

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I’ve witnessed misogyny in fmcg negotiations and it needs to stop

By David Sables / June 27, 2023

Prompted by the allegations behind the recent resignation of Tesco chairman John Allan, I believe it’s a good time to highlight what I consider unacceptable personal abuse frequently witnessed in fmcg. We all know buyers use pressure tactics to make suppliers feel uncomfortable, because it often results in concessions. So, classics such as “the other guys do it cheaper” are frequent and part of the game. But misogyny should not... Read More

Suppliers are the latest scapegoat for high food prices. Let’s bust this myth now

By David Sables / May 30, 2023

Now the government has rightly moved its pointy finger away from retailers, Jeremy Hunt has directed profiteering concerns at suppliers. The concern is there is not enough competition in our apparently sleepy world of fmcg supply. Of course it is madness. We know suppliers are going into administration at an all-time high, and every category is highly competitive in manufacturing. The government is attempting to put blame somewhere in its... Read More

Suppliers, steer clear of Sainsbury’s talks over Lloyds Pharmacy space

By David Sables / April 04, 2023

Sainsbury’s has entered talks with suppliers over the future of its Lloyds Pharmacy space. This is being described by Sainsbury’s as a mere investigation, scenario research if you will, being conducted on a store-by-store basis. This approach to commercialising the space on Sainsbury’s side is at best strategically late and haphazard, and at worst a false promise for suppliers’ cash. The appropriate use of that space should have been locked... Read More

Suppliers, plan your cost price reduction strategy now

By David Sables / March 06, 2023

People think inflation is bad, therefore deflation must be good. Wrong. Unless it’s in relation to a Chinese spy balloon, deflation is bad in both macro and micro economic terms. Deflation, or negative inflation, brings a fall in the general absolute level of prices. Outside of food, it can result in consumers delaying purchases as they wait for the price to fall. This results in falling demand, reduced levels of... Read More

Sustainability, AI, people: the macro trends to watch this year

By David Sables / February 07, 2023

We are emerging from three bruising years, during which the industry has circled the wagons and played safe. In this next era, inflationary pressures will lift, and ambitious retailers will need to be more innovative to hit those well-published targets. The pressure will change, not disappear, as decreasing consumer disposable income and a desire for greater health and environmental sustainability remain constant. There is opportunity to win through collaboration in... Read More

CPI issues dominated the GCA conference. Let’s stamp out the unfairness

By David Sables / October 04, 2022

The GCA conference last week had all the usual themes: GSCOP drives huge improvement, fear of retribution has half of suppliers refusing to use it. But what was very different this year was that cost price increase (CPI) related issues dominated the conference. I’m glad that wasn’t ducked. It highlights again that CPI is a glaring omission from GSCOP – and that it needs amendment. There was visible confusion over... Read More

The role of the GCA isn’t in doubt. But the code is up for debate

By David Sables / August 09, 2022

Small business minister Jane Hunt by now has recognised her blunder in targeting the GCA role for efficiencies: the GCA office is funded by the 14 retailers it governs. But questioning its suitability is right. After all, the GSCOP survey in June showed relations had deteriorated for the first time since the role was created. Overall, has GSCOP helped? Yes, absolutely. Is GSCOP fit for purpose today? Clearly not! Inflation... Read More

Heinz and Mars won’t beat Tesco in a PR battle over price rises

By David Sables / July 13, 2022

The Tesco vs Heinz/Mars pricing spats jog memories of Marmitegate in 2016, when Unilever had its fall-out with Tesco. Before that, Heineken, and Walkers/Pepsi in the noughties, also had a six-month stand-off over pricing with Tesco. It always seems to be Tesco involved on the retail side and a huge, branded supplier on the other. So why Tesco? Two reasons: firstly, Tesco has PR expertise. Having emerged from the Marmite... Read More

GSCOP survey highlights inflationary pressures, not lack of co-operation

By David Sables / June 16, 2022

When the GCSOP survey results are published, the industry coalface is momentarily transfixed. This league table of retailer compliance is the best thing the GCA office has ever done. It provides a rating of retailer behaviour, and in case you believe the headlines this week: yes, the retailers do care, and are in fact slightly competitive, about how their treatment of suppliers is perceived. Although of course, it will not... Read More

We need an Australian-style GSCOP to support suppliers through CPIs

By David Sables / May 18, 2022

There’s no denying GSCOP has made a difference. Retailers take the code seriously – even Amazon has scurried to adapt since falling under its governance. It is however a very thin and vague document, which is unfit to assist suppliers in today’s inflationary marketplace and the overriding necessity to implement cost price increases (CPIs). Groceries Code Adjudicator Mark White, and Christine Tacon before him, find a home for any decision... Read More