Sainsbury's announced a new growth strategy at last week's trade briefing.

We are redesigning our supply base.”
”We expect more ideas from you to drive costs down and customer value up.
— Adrian Cook, Director of Fresh Food
Drive COGS reductions on the back of efficiencies”
”Stock Efficiency, Availability & Responsiveness
— Karen Whitworth, Director of Non-Food Grocery

Sainsbury's 'value chain' is the same as our 'flow-of-goods' model which SKUtrak® is designed to measure, monitor and improve!

SKUtrak® is a free service for all Sainsbury's and Morrisons suppliers that harnesses the power of your Sainsbury's Horizon and Morrisons MSD data.

We created SKUtrak® to help ou collaborate with our etai customers as rusted partner through etter use of our shared information, o you can optimise our trading relationshi by nlocking the value n the data".

SKUtrak transforms complex, difficult to use retailer data into simple, consistent, visual dashboards. With SKUtrak you can see your insight across the retailers, so you can work directly with them to reduce complexity and improve efficiency in your 'flow of goods'.

We need to use data to do a better job for our customers” (2016)
”Suppliers have to deliver insight to drive sales and growth, not just a good price. (2013)
— Mike Coupe, CEO

SKUtrak is the fastest, low cost method to drive your availability,

sales and growth in a data-driven way

The free version is a no brainer - all Horizon users should have this as it doesn’t cost anything and gives improved visibility through the daily alerts and dashboard.
— Sarah Poole, National Account Manager, Baylis & Harding Ltd
AuthorCallum Harrison
Simon Runc @Runkski Visual Data Analyst & Tableau Ambassador at Atheon Analytics Ltd

Simon Runc @Runkski

Visual Data Analyst & Tableau Ambassador at Atheon Analytics Ltd

Why Visual Analytics?

In the previous post we defined what I mean by “visual analytics”, explored its current usage (or lack thereof) in the retail sector, looked some of the reasons why it is underutilised, and explored why it is such a great fit for retail. In Part 2, I'll propose how these obstacles can be overcome and so make it the standard ("New Normal") method for analysis (and ensuring decisions are fact-based)

How CAN Visual Analytics Become the ‘New Normal’ in Grocery Retail?

Let’s take a retail buyer as an example. Buyers are experts in buying. They have spent their time learning all the facets of being a buyer (negotiation, merchandising, range planning, promotional planning, etc.). Data visualisers are experts in data visualisation, and have spent their time learning the skills of data visualisation (visual perception, data modelling, statistics, cognitive processes...etc.). If they had spent their time learning what each other know, they wouldn’t know what they know and vice versa!

So we have a situation where the buyers knows all the right questions to ask (using their domain expertise), but do not possess the skills to prepare and manoeuvre around the data, to answer those questions. The data visualiser possesses the skills to prepare and manoeuvre around the data without the specific domain expertise to ask the right questions, and doesn’t speak in a retailer's language.

The solution is to have data visualisation experts who have domain knowledge in retail. They won’t have the specific domain expertise of the buyer (I'm not going to know what the Tesco cheese buyer, say, knows about the cheese market and Tesco’s specific strategy for this area). But the general retail knowledge (a retail specialist visualisation analyst has) means they know the things that are important to a retailer, and speak the same "language". This means they know how to create “meaningful” composite metrics, what aspects will be important to include in any visualisation, what is "actionable"...etc.

The above shows a visual representation of this idea. This is a highly simplified view only showing 2 individuals. In reality the “knowledge” and “specialisation” is multi-dimensional (eg. for data viz there are domain expertise in data modelling, design, the science of visualisation, predictive algorithms...etc. and similar for retail where, say, a supply chain manager will have logistic expertise)

So by utilising the knowledge and skills of both, working together (face to face), they are able to leverage each other's knowledge and solve the problems and answer the pertinent questions. This combination of domain expertise (in buying from the buyer, and data visualisation for the data/viz analyst) combined with the domain knowledge from the analyst is an incredibly powerful combination. By far, the most successful projects I’ve worked on have taken this form (generally in a workshop), where we have come to some very deep, powerful, and (most importantly) actionable insights.

In the part 3, I will demonstrate (via a real-world example) that by leaning on visual expertise combined with domain knowledge and a buyer’s specific category knowledge, we can answer deep and complicated questions…in minutes.

AuthorCallum Harrison

Atheon Analytics is extending the experience and capability of its management team to help manage record growth. Nick brings 20 years of senior retail and retail analytics experience gained at industry leaders Tesco and Dunnhumby.

Nick Ross-Gower joins Atheon Analytics in the new role of Chief Operating Officer from February 1st


Nick spent 9 years in the commercial division of Tesco before progressing to the Tesco team at Dunnhumby. In the following 10 years he held the positions of Commercial Director, Head of Global Business Units, and Head of Europe. Nick's challenge at Dunnhumby was not only to improve the existing understanding of large multi-national FMCG suppliers and retailers, but to counter their ingrained customer perceptions with industry best practice and fact-based data analysis.

Nick’s most recent role within Dunnhumby was Head of New Business Sales – winning business with its first new UK retailer client in 9 years and the first German retailer ever. Atheon already works with many of the top UK Grocers, and Nick’s experience in working with these and other leading retailers at the highest level will ensure Atheon Analytics remains at the forefront of the trade relationship revolution.

2016 was another great year for Atheon; record customer growth has driven the need for a bigger team - now 22-strong - and our third office upgrade in four years. The business has demanding growth plans for 2017; our SKUtrak platform now serves over 1,000 FMCG users from over 400 businesses, and we are looking to push well beyond this.

Nick’s appointment brings significant additional expertise and leadership; he comes with a wealth of experience in the application of analytics to retail data, and a proven track record in growing new business and leading large teams
— Ian Hall, Commercial Director
I’m joining Atheon because it has a fantastic blend of passion and pragmatism in the use of data analytics that ensures our clients can benefit truly from working with us. Over the past 20 years I have repeatedly seen retailers and FMCG manufacturers cry out for simple but brilliant insights that they can actually action, from the vast array of bewildering data available to them; it’s not about big data it’s about the best application of the right data.

Atheon humanises the right data which enables the correct decisions in collaboration with retailers and manufacturers (large and small) with both bespoke consultancy and easy to use tools such as SKUtrak. Coupled with this, the warmth, intelligence, and incisiveness of the team has inspired me to want to be part of the next chapter in Atheon’s history.
— Nick Ross-Gower, Chief Operating Officer
We’re delighted to be welcoming Nick to Atheon Analytics; his experience, vision and energy will help us expand our mission to humanise data in the retail sector, through both our retail analytics consulting services and SKUtrak - the UK’s leading flow-of-goods tracker for FMCG suppliers.
— Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director

For more information, please contact or call 08444 145 501.

AuthorCallum Harrison

Simon joins Atheon Analytics from Mars UK and will be assisting SKUtrak Product Manager Ed Crawford in nurturing SKUtrak’s leading FMCG supplier base as it doubles in size.

Simon Bailey joins Atheon Analytics in the new role of SKUtrak Client Manager from 1st January. Simon is the 8th sector expert to join Atheon Analytics in the past 12 months as the expansion of SKUtrak continues at pace.

Simon has nearly a decade of grocery analytics experience across Molson Coors and most recently Mars. His last 4 years have been as a Sales Development Analyst at Mars, performing detailed analysis to fund the progress of internal teams and their retailer counterparts.

Simon’s challenge at Mars was turning multiple data sources and vast pools of information into a coherent story which not only reported on trading performance, but gave its recipients actionable opportunities for improvement. He achieved this with just his intimate knowledge of Excel and an ungodly amount of time and patience.

Simon was already experiencing many of the issues which plagued suppliers before SKUtrak’s invention. He was ‘getting by’ with just the rudimentary tools available to him and so many other suppliers when trying to influence their trading performance. It is going to be a pleasure working with him to promote the right tool for the job; SKUtrak.
— Ed Crawford, SKUtrak Product Manager

In his new role Simon will leave behind the information overload to the trusted and automated capabilities of SKUtrak, and instead focus his talents on assisting suppliers and their end-users in getting the most out of their subscriptions to SKUtrak’s Premium products; Explorer and Period End Reports.

As Client Manager Simon will be responsible for the development of flow-of-goods analysis, interpretation, and execution across account management and supply chain teams in the rapidly growing SKUtrak Premium client base. He will also be managing the SKUtrak customer feedback program; contributing direct user feedback into the continued improvement of SKUtrak. Many of these improvements will revolve around some of the key technologies that Atheon Analytics uses to enable the unique capabilities of SKUtrak, including EXASOL & Tableau Software.

Simon is the ideal candidate with the proven experience in empowering Account Managers, Supply Chain professionals and Field Sales teams with a rich understanding of performance through the effective use of retailer data. This experience will be invaluable when working with the thousand plus retail professionals who regularly access SKUtrak.

I’m joining Atheon because the opportunity to help suppliers use the vast amount of available retailer data via SKUtrak is really exciting. Rather than spending time manipulating the data into usable formats, supplier personnel from Account Managers through to Supply Chain can concentrate on the ‘value added’ both to their business and that of the retailer.
— Simon Bailey, SKUtrak Client Manager
We welcome Simon to this new role, it’s an exciting time in the life of SKUtrak; we have always been committed to making flow-of-goods analysis available to all UK FMCG suppliers through SKUtrak Free products. With Simon as SKUtrak Client Manager we are increasing our commitment to develop the analytical skills across our SKUtrak Premium customers – key to building the best supplier-retailer relationships possible.
— Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director

For more information, please contact or call 08444 145 501.

AuthorCallum Harrison

Free Morrisons MSD access for suppliers levels playing field across grocery retail

You may have seen the announcement last week that Morrisons is making its MSD data portal free to all its suppliers.

Morrisons wrote to all its suppliers “…we want to work together with our suppliers to serve our customers better. To help us do this, it’s important we have the tools to make sure the right products are in the right place at the right time. To do this we share key information with you through the Morrisons Supplier Database (MSD). MSD is an on-line information data exchange, sharing key sales, ranging and scanning, depot Inventory and stock cover, purchase orders, delivery and service level information.”

We believe sharing this information, both current and historical, is important in simplifying and speeding up how we work together… the great news is that from the 1st February 2017 we will be offering free access to this tool.

Since launching our Morrisons version of SKUtrak® ( 12 months ago we have spoken with hundreds of existing MSD subscribers on how to get the best out of their Morrisons data; signing up more than a hundred to SKUtrak in the first 6 months alone.

In this time we also encountered an even larger number of suppliers who wanted to work with Morrisons’ data to understand their performance and ultimately improve their sales and service levels, but whom were unwilling to pay the MSD fee.

Last week’s announcement marks a turning point; it means that for the first time every grocery supplier can access their raw daily data for all the top 4 retailers without additional fees. The challenge for suppliers now is how to turn all this raw information into the clear picture of trading performance which enables the collaborative benefits retailers like Morrisons demand.

If you supply Sainsbury’s and Morrisons and already have a Horizon or MSD account then you can already go to and get one or both of our free retailer services.

If you don’t yet have a Morrisons MSD then you will need to “…contact the MSD team by emailing with your Supplier name and ideally your Morrisons Supplier number.”

We believe this is another step in the larger story of retailers and suppliers benefiting from more collaborative use of retailer data. If you want to use all your retailer data more effectively get in touch with us on

AuthorCallum Harrison

We first moved to the Cranfield Innovation Centre back in 2012, however with the team and the business growing so quickly we have doubled our office space again for a third time in 4 years.

On 5th December we will be moving into the largest offices available within the Innovation Centre. With even more ambitious plans for growth in the next 2 years we might be upgrading again sooner rather than later...

AuthorCallum Harrison

By humanising data through visual formats brands and retailers can improve business operations, sales, margins and profits

Brands and retailers generate enormous amounts of data each day, ranging from sales information through to where products are in the supply chain, who is buying them, when and where.

Billions of rows of data are available on a daily basis to brands, but many struggle with the complexity of that data, especially during busy shopping seasons.

It is therefore necessary to make data accessible to all; from account managers, to supply chain planners through to the board.

Only by visualising data can accurate decisions that have an impact from the supply chain to the supermarket shelves be made.

Read the full story here.

AuthorCallum Harrison

Guy Cuthbert talks to V3 about firm's efforts to bring analytics to supermarket supplier base

Every day the UK supermarket giants such as Tesco, Sainsbury's or M&S publish data to their suppliers on how many of their items were sold across their store estate.

This data can then be analysed by suppliers to assess their performance and spot any issues. For example, if a promotion was expected to boost sales by 20 per cent but this has not happened, there could be a supply chain issue.

However, despite the clear advantage of such data, Guy Cuthbert (pictured), managing director at Atheon Analytics, a firm that provides analytic services for suppliers, has seen first hand that many fail to take advantage of this potential.

Read the full story here.

We reckon that about half of the suppliers we have met with don’t even know this data is available, and the half that do, around 80 per cent just get hold of data at the end of month, and do a simple ‘how was the past month’ summary.
— Guy Cuthbert
AuthorCallum Harrison

Atheon's Managing Director Guy Cuthbert presents at the EXASOL Xperience in Berlin.

Atheon’s SKUtrak service uses EXASOL under the covers to power all of the work that it does. We collect data from about 450 suppliers to supermarkets in the UK every day, put all that data together and make it available to them to look at their businesses in a different way.
— Guy Cuthbert
AuthorCallum Harrison

“EXASOL in my backpack” demonstrates significant development cost savings by running on-premise – and by using a smattering of LEGO too

Atheon Analytics, the specialist retail analytics consultancy working with some of the UK’s largest retailers and suppliers, has developed the innovative solution primarily to run their in-house development cluster.

AuthorCallum Harrison

Stuart Blackley, Director at Ivo Solutions asked Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director at Atheon Analytics for his opinion on turning data 'from virtual to reality'.

Whether they realise it or not, modern businesses are rarely lacking in good quality data. Today the challenge for most companies is how best to harvest useful insights from this data and then make the necessary changes. To achieve this you need a rare blend of technical know-how and commercial pragmatism.
— Guy Cuthbert

You can download the full whitepaper here.

Ivo Solutions work closely with Atheon Analytics to visualise huge data extracts from clients, helping to reveal trends and patterns which would otherwise be impossible to identify.

If you would like to join either of us on the journey and unlock value within your business, please get in touch. or

AuthorCallum Harrison

At this year’s IGD Trade Briefing Sainsbury’s said it had 3 expectations of suppliers: “Deliver the basics”, “Help us unlock value together”, and “Talk to us”. The following case study shows how Santa Maria has been meeting and exceeding these expectations since 2014 through their effective use of SKUtrak®.

Santa Maria, a leading producer of World Foods & Flavourings, is a branded supplier of Sainsbury’s. Gareth Phillips, the Sainsbury’s Business Account Manager, is faced with the same situation as most suppliers: retailers are demanding more of their suppliers. They are expected to provide outstanding service levels on a daily basis.

Sainsbury’s demand the highest levels of service from us, so we need to keep on top of our game to deliver that.
— Gareth Phillips, Sainsbury's Business Account Manager, Santa Maria

That’s where SKUtrak comes in. Suppliers are provided an enormous amount of data on a daily basis. They can easily spend hours collecting and processing that data before they ever get the opportunity to gain anything from it. SKUtrak automates the process, providing people like Gareth with the opportunity to see and interact with their data in a way they never have been able to before.

Now, Gareth is able to look at sales & delivery data every day along with stock holding at depots & at store. He can therefore take appropriate action to address any shorts quickly, before the situation escalates and affects availability. He comments: “Without SKUtrak, I wouldn’t be able to see that level of data easily.  It’s difficult to find the time to get that level of data, but because it’s a headline in an email [the Daily KPI email all users receive], I can see it and then we can take appropriate action.”

SKUtrak is changing Gareth’s relationship with logistics. He is able to keep his finger on the pulse of service, monitoring with minimal time investment. “We’re starting to get a routine here where our logistics team know I’m going to contact them when there is a short,” notes Phillips. “So they pre-empt that by saying ‘this is the reason why we shorted those cases.’ I’m spending less time being reactive to shorts and more time being proactive about managing the business.” Every time logistics tells Gareth that there is going to be a short, it means Gareth can contact key stakeholders, including his buyer to try and mitigate the impact on Sainsbury’s. Logistics is now operating with increased accountability. As Gareth says, “having data helps me get to that position.”

Because Santa Maria has adopted SKUtrak across the Sainsbury’s account, everyone is operating from the same data. Internal conversations are revolving around data. And it’s saving time, preserving performance, and helping Santa Maria become a collaborative supplier – something Sainsbury’s wants all of their suppliers to achieve.

If you supply Sainsbury’s or Morrisons’ supermarkets then register today for the Free editions at, or contact us to receive news and updates on SKUtrak.

As the SKUtrak audience continues to grow - more and more suppliers are benefiting from the improved visibility of the flow of their products to retailer stores and onto shelf. Santa Maria are able to react to the daily alerts that SKUtrak generates which helps them develop an improved trading relationship with Sainsbury’s and ultimately increase sales
— Chris Needham, SKUtrak Product Manager, Atheon Analytics
“Making better use of available data is now a commercial imperative for all suppliers. In the era of fewer high-low promotions, and reduced SKU counts, suppliers need to look for marginal gains in improvement through data-led decision making. Being able to articulate insights in a collaborative way genuinely changes the relationship between buyer and supplier
— Ian Hall, Commercial Director, Atheon Analytics
AuthorCallum Harrison

The EXASOL Xperience in Berlin featured EXASOL's partner award program which aims to recognise the efforts of its partners across four areas: best consulting partner, best OEM partner, best sales partner and best partner with the smartest solution.

Atheon Analytics won this year's award for smartest solution in recognition of the "EXASOL in my pocket" solution which allows users to use a 4-inch Intel NUC device to analyse and visualise hundreds of millions of rows of data in real-time using EXASOL along with Tableau. Atheon were presented with an EXASOL "X" glass trophy by EXASOL's COO/CFO, Michael Konrad.

Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director, Atheon Analytics. Rose Ahearne, Database Solutions Architect, Atheon Analytics. Mike Konrad, COO/CFO, EXASOL.

Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director, Atheon Analytics. Rose Ahearne, Database Solutions Architect, Atheon Analytics. Mike Konrad, COO/CFO, EXASOL.

Atheon is a UK Tableau and EXASOL partner and came up with this ingenious solution called “EXASOL in my pocket” which allows end-users to get started with both solutions incredibly quickly. As you can see, the device is extremely small but also highly effective. Many thanks for your great support and the inspiring ideas.
— Mike Konrad, COO/CFO, EXASOL
We are humbled for our solution to be singled out amongst all of the EXASOL partners at this years Xperience event. Our quest to humanise data for some of the UK’s largest retailers and suppliers is only possible when partnered by industry leading technology suppliers like EXASOL.
— Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director, Atheon Analytics
AuthorCallum Harrison

Atheon Analytics announces the appointment of Alex Paterson as Senior Visual Analyst.

Alex will be assisting Managing Director Guy Cuthbert in delivering large-scale specialist retail analytics consultancy projects with some of the UK’s largest retailers and suppliers.

Alex achieved his BSc in Geography at Lancaster University, his degree established his analytical foundations to which he has added more than a decade of commercial experience, most recently from Ocado where he was a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst.

Alex has a broad experience of retail analytics and a deep knowledge of using and deploying Tableau at scale. His ability to deploy projects to over a thousand users will be invaluable to the large-scale visual analysis projects Atheon undertakes for its FMCG client base. Alex’s interests include mountain biking, Netflix, and Amateur IoTs projects using Arduino and the Raspberry Pi.
“I’m joining Atheon because I want to be using the latest technology to apply market leading visualisation techniques throughout a wide range of clients and scenarios. I believe the era of leveraging big data has truly arrived and at Atheon we are perfectly placed to extract insight from the complexity.”

Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director comments: “Alex joins Atheon at a critical juncture, where the increasingly large project requirements from some of our biggest clients demands the specialist skills that Alex already possesses, it’s great to find someone like him who can hit the ground running and make an instant impact on the team”

AuthorCallum Harrison

Atheon Analytics announces the appointment of Adam Booth as Junior Visual Analyst.

Adam will be directly supporting Managing Director Guy Cuthbert and then the wider team in delivering specialist retail analytics consultancy projects with some of the UK’s largest retailers and suppliers.

Adam is re-joining Atheon after a successful summer internship where he learned the fundamentals of Tableau software. Adam is a natural mathematician and will be utilising his knowledge of statistical techniques and modelling in his new role. He is a keen footballer but also enjoys long distance running and live music events.

“I’m joining Atheon as I believe that as the retail world becomes more data-driven the ability of those in the industry to interpret and analyse their data to provide clear actionable insights on which key decisions can be based is crucial. At a time when the retail market is becoming more and more competitive, good and appropriate use of data can be the key to unlocking a business’s potential, and I am excited by this opportunity to help clients see the value in what is already available to them."

Guy Cuthbert, Managing Director comments: “Adam continues the trend of exceptional interns to spend time with Atheon Analytics before returning to fulfil more permanent roles. I look forward to helping him develop his already keen eye for statistical rigour and the application of these principals in real world settings using industry leading tools like Tableau Software.”

AuthorCallum Harrison