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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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

Why we must challenge international buying groups

By David Sables / April 03, 2019

Two weeks back I wrote about the activities of international buying groups, which appears to have touched a nerve among suppliers. In the piece I pointed out that UK suppliers had to date been shielded from this issue by the English Channel. To me, it’s almost a relief that Tesco’s involvement with Carrefour has now brought it under the spotlight. So in response to a few questions I received, here... Read More

How buying groups like Tesco-Carrefour bully suppliers

By David Sables / March 23, 2019

The Geneva talks are a departure from Tesco’s approach of recent years, but very consistent with that of Carrefour, its strategy buying partner. If ever there was a directional mismatch it’s here, but it makes perfect sense for the two retail giants in different markets to follow the lead of the international buying groups (IBGs). It’s bad for suppliers, bad for shoppers and decency, but great for retailer margins.  This... Read More

Why the M&S-Ocado deal is positive news for suppliers

By David Sables / March 05, 2019

What is the collective noun for a group of suppliers? A haul? A deal? A delay? Anyway, the Ocado switch from Waitrose to M&S has positives for many groups of suppliers in the long term. With the negative CMA review of the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger, it’s been a good couple of weeks for suppliers. I’m not saying that because of the buyer negotiation power, which tends to be the first thought... Read More

The palm oil debate is complex, but Iceland has made a positive difference

By David Sables / January 08, 2019

Following Iceland’s ‘banned’ Rang-tan advert, many got caught up in the palm oil debate over Christmas as social media did its work, ensuring more saw it than any of the others. But, as it so often does, social media fired the public off on a dangerous tangent. The ad was inspired by Richard Walker’s trip to Borneo a couple of years back. He was so appalled he subsequently took a... Read More

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