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

Discounter copycats are a threat to brands and consumers

By David Sables / September 26, 2014

Imagine you’ve been out of the country for five years and now you are walking around an Aldi or Lidl. You’d be taken aback, not by the food quality or the outstanding retail strategy, more by the number of suppliers who have allowed their brands to be ripped off. When own label producers started this copycatting practice some 20 years ago in an attempt to step up beyond ‘cheapest on... Read More

Help to put the ‘joint’ part back into Tesco’s joint business plans

By David Sables / September 06, 2014

So much has been written regarding the demise of Philip Clarke and the new David Lewis era at Tesco that you may be tired of it by now. However, do not underestimate just how seismic a shift this is for a business that still commands about £1 in every £8 spent on all UK retail spending. The new man and his new FD will have little accountability for the 2014/15... Read More

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