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.

For press enquiries, please contact our UK office. call: +44 (0) 1753 867979 or email

A reply to ‘Suppliers angry as retailers keep digging for old debts’

By David Sables / August 18, 2014

In reference to your article ‘Suppliers angry as retailers keep digging for old debts’ (9 August, p5), please add me to your huge list of cynics. Eight of our 10 large retailers have made voluntary commitments to time-limit forensic audits to two and a bit years. The fact that so many are blitzing the accounts to ensure they’ve missed nothing before magnanimously stopping the practice is an outrage. The spirit... Read More

Don't skirt around the point - there really is no harm in asking!

By David Sables / August 09, 2014

We are constantly fed a myth-soup about selling and negotiation; like win-win and making buyers happy. Buyers don’t choose to go with your proposal because they like you. They choose to go with you because it is in their best interest to do so, and maybe they like you! You don’t have to be a psychologist – the mistakes we make are not that complex; you don’t have to be... Read More

Why not just outlaw the obviously unfair trading practices?

By David Sables / July 14, 2014

I’m often accused of emotive language when discussing the Groceries Code Adjudicator. Well yes! Look, it’s not disputed that there are unfair practices afoot. Frankly, it’s a bit odd that more people are not emotional about it. Suppliers are very emotional and are beginning to report issues to me rather than risk anonymity lapses. Meanwhile, retailers circumvent the spirit of the code by word games. Say ‘request’ in place of... Read More

Be careful what you share with customers - keep your advantage

By David Sables / June 14, 2014

Do retailers’ own brands get an advantage from the information we share? I researched this question before addressing policymakers and the OFT last week at the Retail Symposium. The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. More interesting, though, is the astonishing level of acceptance from suppliers. Private-label share varies of course, but they are often the largest in the category. The custodians of this competition are the same people upon whom... Read More

Here’s your chance to tell the Adjudicator what you’re thinking

By David Sables / May 17, 2014

Yes, I know, you could quote me saying the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) has no real teeth. And yes, I’ve quoted suppliers who say: “invoke GSCOP? I might as well torch my factory”. Look, the code of practice is a move in the right direction and some successes are visible. But speaking yesterday with Adjudicator Christine Tacon, it’s clear just how spectacularly suppliers are losing the lobbying battle. The truth... Read More

Are major retailers easier to deal with than wounded animals?

By David Sables / April 25, 2014

We are witnessing a major shift in buying habits away from the big supers and into convenience formats. It’s probably the biggest change to your sales operation in working memory. The share shift into the multiples was much more gradual. The rise of the hard discounters is well documented, as is the success of Waitrose and M&S at the premium end. Commercial functions are having to adapt to the new... Read More

Make it pay while the sun shines - strategic and sensible selling

By David Sables / March 22, 2014

How’s the weather been for your business recently? Blustery customer rhetoric, floods of delisting threats and tidal waves of year-end demands? It’s been a winter of discontent for most of the multiples, exacerbated by truly awful Christmas trading. They’ve had year-end pressures and you have felt the rain. But the days are getting lighter. We are in that short spring season when, for most of the big five buyers, the... Read More

Calamity can provide an excellent customer service opportunity

By David Sables / February 22, 2014

I'm writing this in Datchet, Berkshire, where I'm stranded at home due to the flooding. My mail will not get here today, nor will there be a collection. The roads in and out are blocked. Occasionally, the power comes on so I can boil the kettle, but I have no milk for my coffee as supplies have not reached the local independent store. The Tesco Express is shopped out but... Read More

The Big Four all had a Disastrous Christmas – Beware The Fallout

By David Sables / January 27, 2014

So how was Christmas for you? You were hoping for an iPad, and got a cookbook. Well, maybe you didn’t get what you wanted but still, look on the bright side, you could be Dalton Philips. The pressure facing Morison’s now is palpable. It’s not incredible that a lead retailer can underperform in the key season. What is unusual, however, is that it seems the top four have all had... Read More

Stop Guaranteeing Retailer Margin! You don’t Decide the RSP

By David Sables / December 14, 2013

Right now, many suppliers will be arguing with customers over payments for the joint business plan. Commitments weren’t met, and results failed to generate the money you are being harassed to just pay anyway. Too many suppliers pay up because not to do so would affect the deal for the next year: a spiralling nightmare. So here it is JBP season, everybody’s having fun... It gets worse though; suppliers are... Read More