Can you give us a brief overview of what DCS Group does?

DCS Group is the UK’s leading distributor of household, health, beauty, baby, and healthier snacking brands, founded in 1994 by Denys C. Shortt OBE.

The group has delivered 26 years of consecutive sales growth for our suppliers and our customers, earning numerous accolades including appearing five times in The Sunday Times Top Track 250.

Brand partners include: P&G, Unilever, Colgate, SC Johnson, PZ Cussons, Johnson & Johnson, Danone, Graze, Grenade and many more.

DCS delivers efficient and effective sales and distribution solutions for globally leading brands in complex and specialist routes to market. We simplify and consolidate supply chains to minimise costs and maximise sales. We offer a range of added value services in brand repacking, design, merchandising and category management.

DCS also owns the Enliven health & beauty brand which is sold in 75 countries worldwide.

The business now consists of five different divisions:

– Sales and distribution that grows brands in more complex or specialist routes to market

– Manufacturing division in its new state of the art personal care factory in Redditch

– Co-pack and re-pack production facility

– Third party logistics fulfilment

– Global export division

Is the health and beauty category currently in growth? Which particular sub-sectors of the market are in growth? What is driving the growth?

It’s been a year of two halves for the health and beauty market. Spending more time at home led to fewer personal care occasions, which in turn drove sales across many health and beauty categories into decline.

Hair styling was impacted particularly strongly, along with deodorants and shaving. At the other end of the scale, hand wash, hand sanitiser and bar soap saw dramatic sales growth with the significantly increased hand washing, and bath and shower products saw an increase too. Additionally, sales of hand moisturisers have increased too, to combat dry skin caused by all the extra hand washing.

Whilst home working is a trend that is here to stay, many people will adopt a hybrid working model, spending more time in the office but at least part of their time working from home. This does mean personal care routines will start to re-emerge, especially as lockdown measures lift further and people start socialising more, but for many people, personal care routines will not get back to the same level as before the pandemic.

How is the Enliven brand performing? Did the Covid-19 pandemic boost sales of hand sanitiser?

Enliven has seen exceptional sales over the last 12 months growing our turnover by 123% with our hand gels seeing growth of over 900%.

Having our own factory in Redditch meant we were able to react and adapt quickly to the challenges of the pandemic, launching 10 new hand gels in the first few months in varying shapes and sizes. To ensure stock could be produced as quickly as possible, our factory quickly turned from 5 days a week into a 24/7 hotbed of activity. As demand continued to pour in from key frontline employers such as Thames Valley Police and the NHS, we quickly committed to allocate stock fairly to ensure supply reached both our essential frontline workers as well as our core customers.

Outside of our hand hygiene products, the rest of our range continues to perform well, and we are seeing high growth in hair gel and mouthwash sales as well as some of our lesser known products such as dry shampoo and hair mousse – all getting great reviews on social media.

How do you work with retailers to help them grow their sales?

Our Enliven model is based on an every day value proposition. We are proud to be able to offer a value product made in the UK without compromise on quality or care.

Last year we started to venture more into off-shelf display and have had huge success with FSDUs in Homebase and are already growing this into more and more retailers over 2021 with all new offerings.

What advice do you have for retailers in merchandising the health and beauty category?

The pandemic has seen shopping frequency reduce significantly, with the re-emergence of the ‘weekly shop’. Frequency will start to increase as lockdown measures ease, but there will still be many shoppers looking to get as much as they can all in one place, partly to minimise their ongoing risk of infection and partly for convenience. With this in mind, the more shopper needs a retailer can cover, the more likely it is that shoppers will choose that store.

In terms of specific merchandising advice, it varies by sub-category. In general, merchandise categories together on shelf, block them by brand, and merchandise regimes together in the order the consumer would use the products to encourage an extra impulse purchase (e.g. shampoo, conditioner and treatment of the same brand). Secondary displays are important too – shoppers have become more purposeful, are planning more in advance, and are going straight for the products on their list rather than browsing, which means secondary displays are extra-important for grabbing the shoppers attention and driving impulse sales.

What targets do you have in the area of sustainability and corporate social responsibility?

All our Enliven products are made in the UK without exception and we are proud to be able to support the local trade and economy as well as keeping our carbon footprint enviably low.

DCS Group has committed to be carbon neutral by 2025. As well as committing to waste reduction we have already planted 30,000 trees, have invested in a large honey bee project and are investing heavily in solar panels and committing to electric vehicles.

Do you have any NPD this year?

We have kicked off the year with the launch of a new Micellar Water. An exciting new addition to the range and our first venture into skincare. We are especially proud of this one as the product is fabulous, made in the UK, offers unbeatable value for the end consumer and is dressing table ready in a very pretty pink.

We have also revamped our fruits range fresh for the summer with some bold and bright graphic packaging we are all in love with and are overflowing with more ideas on where to take this. Later in the year will be revamping our Luxury Range whilst at the same time developing a kids range and a professional hair care range – watch this space! One thing we are never short of is ideas and having our own factory poised and ready to bring them to life makes us truly agile.

What marketing / brand plans does DCS Group have at this time?

Enliven is ready for the next step and we plan to take our brand up a notch this year. We are currently working on a full rebrand and fresh new look to enliven the market. World domination is on my to-do list – we already ship to over 50 countries worldwide so we are well on track. Watch this space – Enliven is committed to continuing our growth and we have great plans for the next 10 years as we help everyone enliven every day!

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