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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Inexperienced and ignorant buyers are choking the life from suppliers

By David Sables / December 05, 2018

Retailer buyers have dumbed down to a new depth in the view of many suppliers. Cost-cutting to stay cheap has meant fewer buyers handling bigger ranges through more channels. But now experience is being replaced by cheap youth, too. Many suppliers are complaining they can’t get hold of anyone who is over 23. I’ve heard of a young lady handling a multimillion-pound fresh category having moved in from buying for... Read More

Advantage Amazon and D2C - retailers face a double threat

By David Sables / November 07, 2018

The consumer goods industry shake-up is affecting everyone, and its challenges are creating pressure forces in all directions. Discounters put pressure on supermarket retailers, online retailers put pressure on discounters, wholesalers are pressured by them both. To combat this, retailers large and small merge and diversify as best they can, but the lowest common denominator is to pressure the suppliers. It’s fair to say it’s Amazon, not the discounters, holding... Read More

Suppliers are still playing catch-up on price rises

By David Sables / October 14, 2018

What an excellent performance analysis of the top 150 food and drink suppliers, published recently by The Grocer.There isn’t a positive side to this data for suppliers. The piece refers to £1.6bn input costs (think raw materials) last year to these manufacturers. They tried to pass it on and stay even but of course they didn’t get it all through. Now we know they only recouped about 60% of their... Read More

Will the Tesco-Carrefour tie-up be just another buying group?

By David Sables / July 06, 2018

Can Tesco really have announced a tie-up in the style of a buying group? It has worked for three years now to take buying back to the principled old days - only this time with lashings of data support. No longer just a blunt instrument to bludgeon suppliers into loss making decisions, their focus has been on selling more to shoppers. Sure, most suppliers hated the range resets, but those... Read More

Sainsbury's/Asda - Gentle giant or retail monster?

By David Sables & ITV / May 01, 2018

“A great deal for everyone”. Sainsbury’s and Asda have decided to get hitched and they see only the upside. By teaming-up the new Sainsbury’s/Asda group is promising lower prices, better quality, more choice and enhanced technology. This proposal is being presented as a giant win for everyone - staff, shareholders, suppliers and shoppers. Sentinel On ITV News Sentinel On BBC Radio 4 Read More

It's all change in the reset era

By David Sables / January 04, 2018

If your category offers a way for retailers to reach their customers with a shopper-winning, loyalty-driving range, that’s fantastic - right? Not if you’re a supplier trying to push your single brand message through all the retailers. In fact, it’s the biggest threat in decades. Beer is interesting right now. The ‘grocery retail’ opportunity presented by the craft and cask beers trend was first picked up by the independents. Now... Read More

It's price increase panto season for suppliers

By David Sables / October 26, 2017

It’s one year on from the ‘Marmitegate’ cost price wrangle with Tesco. The anniversary is marked by a wave of suppliers thinking again about their next cost price increase. Bookings of our one-day CPI training programme are up 50% with suppliers wanting to exercise their pricing muscles. Last year, even under the shroud of the weakened pound, many suppliers didn’t act, and those who did took a minimum ‘survival hike’... Read More

Time to delist the retailer media sales houses

By David Sables / September 28, 2017

The classic ‘cut and thrust’ between account managers and buyers is changing. Striking the balance of meeting the customers’ needs while developing your employer’s bottom line involves flexible but focused negotiation. This means getting something in return when giving the customer a version of what they ask for. But retailers’ focus on front margin has taken variables off the table over the past 18 months. GSCOP hasn’t helped the flow... Read More

Ways to manage two years of uncertainty

By David Sables / January 17, 2017

Here’s a shocker: I’m predicting that in the next two years the retailers who meet shoppers’ needs best will gain market share at the expense of those who lose focus. And there’s more. I believe the suppliers who best meet the needs of those retailers will have the largest share gains. Marketplace uncertainty is here for at least two years, so we can’t easily assess the spending mood of swathes of... Read More

New suppliers are kept out by buyers but it should be an open invitation

By David Sables / September 28, 2016

How is it that Waitrose has captured the market in being approachable to new suppliers? It gets the true innovation to market first every time. Even though the big four desperately need to differentiate, getting a meeting with any one of them requires you to be a savvy experienced supplier. These established suppliers recycle the status quo, not create true innovation, yet the bright young businesses can’t get through the... Read More