DCS Group began by selling and distributing health, beauty and household brands. It has become the market leader; it’s the official UK sales and distribution company for multinationals such as P&G, Gillette, Unilever and Colgate. But it has also transformed and grown into a manufacturer and brand-owner with a global reach.
In the past five years, DCS has invested more than £4m into its new factory in Stratford-upon-Avon. “It gave us security and quality of supply and it also provided UK retailers with a domestic option from which to source their own-label products,” explains Denys C Shortt OBE, the founder, chairman and CEO of DCS. “It was a long-term investment, not a five-minute winner.”
From Stratford, DCS not only makes own-label brands for many UK names but also for retailers in Australia and Hong Kong.
This is a fiercely competitive market. There are many countries in which everyday products such as hair gel and bubble bath can be made more cheaply. But Shortt is confident about the trust and quality hallmark of “Made in Britain.”
“It’s hugely important that our products are made in Britain,” he says. “Our customers love the excellence of the products that are made here.”
DCS has its own micro-biology laboratory; every ingredient is scrupulously tested. “The testing, mixing and chemistry is the complex bit of our business,” says Shortt. “We have never had to recall any. That’s because of this laboratory. Our customers really value our investment and commitment to quality.”
DCS has also invested heavily in its own brand Enliven which was created in the 1990s as a result of demand from Middle East and African markets.
In March 2015, DCS was one of the companies showcased at the GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, alongside Brompton Bicycle, Tangle Teezer, The Cornish Sea Salt Company, Formisimo, Brand Addition, Metail, Pavegen and 11health.
From the get-go, DCS has worked with UKTI.
“UKTI has supported us for many years with grants for trade shows around the world – in places such as Hong Kong, Bologna and Dubai. UKTI has also helped us with identifying new markets. Going from zero to 75 countries is quite a challenge!”
DCS exports have grown year on year and now account for ten per cent of revenues of its overall £180m turnover – that’s a lot of handwash and shampoo.
Currently DCS exports to 75 countries and many of the fastest-growing markets are in Africa and the Middle East – from Nigeria to Dubai and South Africa.
In 2014, its export business grew by 16 per cent over the previous year. That’s pretty exceptional given that some of its key markets include countries such as Egypt, Libya and Iraq.
That’s pretty exceptional given the turmoil that has afflicted some of these markets with the attendant credit insurance risk, DCS has recently been in contact with UK Export Finance.
“We want to continue to do business in these markets and UK Export Finance has been of huge help,” says Shortt.
Over the years, Denys Shortt has been frequently recognised for his services to entrepreneurship. Apart from DCS Group, he has also founded several technology companies – Enable Software, Enable-iD and Deal Track.
His advice today is that all companies must have “a growth mantra that is underpinned by innovation and technology. And you have to think constantly about how your business can use government services to help that growth.”