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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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

Supermarkets need q-commerce to win back share from discounters

By David Sables / December 18, 2021

Convenience is the new weapon in the battle against Aldi and Lidl, says David Sables, CEO of Sentinel Management Consultants It’s great sport tracking retailers’ shares over the Christmas period. However, a tactically strong Christmas execution is no longer a good indicator of long-term prospects in grocery. There are too many disruptive dynamics in today’s market. Breaking it down, the primary drivers of shopper loyalty remain price (at a given... Read More

Retailers must stop demanding 12 weeks’ notice on cost price increases

By David Sables / November 18, 2021

I’m glad my column back in August has drawn industry attention to retailers’ outrageous demands for proprietary informationon cost price increase ‘justification forms’. As the discussion continues, one phrase that keeps grating on me is ‘12-week notice’. This suggestion that this notice period is necessary on CPIs is wrong. Do check, of course, that no signed supplier agreement clause commits you to a written 12 weeks’ notice. Beyond that, it is not... Read More

Major grocers soared in the pandemic, but 2022 will be the year of small business

By David Sables / September 21, 2021

The large grocery suppliers fared better in lockdown as consumers stocked up on big brands in their time of adversity. This was not just down to consumers becoming less adventurous when all around them was turning to mush – it was also driven by the retailers’ choice to simplify ranges in their quest to keep a core weekly shop available. The net effect of all this is major retailer ranges... Read More