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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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

Why shrinkflation isn’t the crime it’s often made out to be

By David Sables / April 19, 2022

I’ve just had a call from a reporter asking for comment on the heinous crime of ‘shrinkflation’. This happens at least once a year. Whenever someone notices a Creme Egg got smaller or a box has less powder in it, the hares go racing on a consumer deception they’d love to be the first to expose. Imagine their disappointment when, year after year, I explain reducing pack size or weight... Read More

The UK economy is heading for stagflation. Protecting jobs will be critical

By David Sables / March 22, 2022

On top of an acute inflationary environment, we now have a European war that will take it to a new level. I believe the UK economy is on the brink of stagflation – a combination of persistent high inflation, a stagnant economy and increased unemployment. Keeping jobs will be critical. The effect of the conflict on global commodities and fuel is obvious. But soaring costs of labour, transport, feed, fertiliser... Read More

Retailer delay tactics on cost price increases are crippling for smaller suppliers

By David Sables / February 22, 2022

As predicted, there is no sign of let-up on rising input costs and we are in an upward spiral of price hikes. Discounter and private-label shares are coming through as a result, and the major mults are pushing back on justifiable supplier cost price increases (CPI) as best they can. Unable to turn the tide, the best tool retailers have in this situation is to simply slow the flow. That... Read More

Inflation is only just beginning. Suppliers and retailers have a rocky road ahead

By David Sables / January 26, 2022

Inflation is a curse for many, and this series of seemingly relentless cost increases is far from over. Back in September 2021, I predicted inflation would top 5% before Christmas on BBC’s Today programme. Seeing the ONS published 5.4% for December, I feel obliged to add my view to the matrix of analysts assessing where it is heading in 2022. Mine is a unique insight that comes from a position... Read More