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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Businesses can’t passively accept a ‘new normal’ – they must define it

By David Sables / June 17, 2020

The most overused, inappropriate and meaningless term of the moment has to be ‘the new normal’. Not just because it assumes that a normal state of play currently exists, but, dangerously, because it assumes a passive acceptance of the situation businesses have to ‘fit in with’. ‘Normal’ suggests some level of equilibrium. There isn’t one: it’s a moving feast. Nothing is typical, nothing is usual, nothing is conforming to a... Read More

EDLP is the right strategy, but retailers and suppliers are stuck on big promotions

By David Sables / May 28, 2020

Covid-19 crisis pricing is an interesting one. Particularly savvy shoppers have noticed their normal basket jump as much as 25% – not because prices have gone up, but due to the lack of their beloved promotions. It’s logical that during crisis shopping, price promotions need to be dropped to ease the burden of surges on promoted lines. However, price cuts and multibuys define the retailing model of the major chains,... Read More

Coronavirus will complicate next year’s trade negotiations with retailers. Start planning now

By David Sables / April 22, 2020

Annual business plans are always the area which bring out the worst in wholesale and retail customers. When they have not achieved volume or revenue thresholds, they want the bonus anyway and often scupper next year’s discussions to get it. It’s the assault that keeps on mugging. This year, the virus has brought a whole new set of dynamics. Six months before many are even thinking about next year’s plans,... Read More

We need a co-ordinated approach to food supply, with support for small suppliers

By David Sables / March 24, 2020

Supermarket buyers pressurise suppliers to give their increased orders priority. How is that different from the much-maligned shopper panic buying in-store? If they succeed, the smaller retailers not receiving stock become the equivalent of the elderly lady or NHS nurse who is losing out in-store now. Panic buying exists. It’s human nature, as was mapped out beautifully by Maslow back in 1954. Take another look at that motivation pyramid. The... Read More

Don’t ‘take care of number one’ in Brexit planning. Industry must pull together

By David Sables / February 25, 2020

It’s March 2020 already, so way too late for new year’s resolutions, but here’s a prediction instead. For the balance of the year trade bodies, industry leaders, banks, international business, journalists and major retailers will moan and gripe about EU trade deal uncertainty. Adjust your filters, ignore the noise, it will change nothing. Many retailers entered the year bruised, with their market shares in steady decline. Not a freefall, more... Read More

It’s retailer crunch time - who are this year’s Christmas crackers?

By David Sables / December 11, 2019

It is true that a decent Easter and strong summer can provide some ballast for the annual numbers, but the Christmas season is the ‘make or break’ period for a grocer’s year. Ultimately, it sets the heartbeat for the January trading statements, which are the most important of the year and no retailer can afford to get it wrong. So TV ads aren’t just a bit of fun. They need... Read More

Grocery’s ‘dream shoppers’ are going cheap after Mothercare’s collapse

By David Sables / November 12, 2019

The toughest market conditions on record mean supermarkets are having to diversify and differentiate to attract shoppers. Suppliers can help with differentiation if they are minded to offer exclusives on product, promotion or even merchandising. But diversification is a problem for the retailers themselves, who are all wondering what to do with all that space. So who else spotted this one? Baby goods specialist Mothercare has this month called in... Read More

New Tesco boss Ken Murphy faces Carrefour and Jack’s challenges

By David Sables / October 16, 2019

Verdicts are now in following the announcement of Dave Lewis’ surprise departure from Tesco next year and yes, he’s a genius. As no one knows why he is stepping down, I would suggest that - like Terry Leahy - he is hopping off the bus at the top of the hill. His status as consumer business gold dust can’t be denied, but he will be leaving behind a few headaches... Read More

Retailers should collaborate, not compete, to cope with Brexit chaos

By David Sables / August 21, 2019

I have previously avoided the topic of Brexit, but now it seems there’s only one show in town. I always expect the grocery industry to take the lead and set an example, but we seem to be blowing the opportunity to do so with a lack of collaboration. Joint business planning (JBP) is a honed capability in our beloved sector and I would say globally the UK leads the world... Read More

Sainsbury's and Asda have the tools to recover from merger disappointment

By David Sables / April 30, 2019

When the CMA blocked the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger last week I thought about those spy movies where the torturer suddenly loses the upper hand and has to beg for mercy from the person they were just torturing. Not a good look. Mike Coupe singing while announcing the intended supplier squeeze will sit in the back of suppliers’ minds in the forthcoming joint business plan negotiations. Suppliers now get relief from the... Read More