Enable — Success Stories — Archive

Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100

Filed as AwardsPosted October 5, 2004

SUNDAY TIMES MICROSOFT TECH TRACK 100, 2004.

STRATFORD’S ENABLE—IN AT NUMBER 50.

Two million pounds sales a year. Not so much of a benchmark in this day and age—unless your age happens to be 21, you started in business at 14, you were the UK’s youngest qualified helicopter pilot 20 minutes after your 17th birthday—and the clients of your software development company are Sainsbury’s, Goldman Sachs and Collins amongst others in the UK, plus businesses in the USA and Dubai.

Top Midlands businessman Denys Shortt spotted Andrew Butt’s potential while they were each taking helicopter lessons. Andrew was 16, Denys was—and still is—the Chief Exec of one of the Midlands’ fastest growing and most successful businesses, DCS Europe.

So impressed was Denys that he asked Andrew to create software for his 80 million pound household and healthcare distribution business. That mission accomplished, they formed a company to design and develop software for other companies.

Stratford-upon-Avon-based Andrew and Denys and their software business, Enable International Limited, are ranked number 50 in the Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100 today, Sunday, October 3, 2004.

Enabled—Summer 2004 Newsletter

Filed as NewslettersPosted July 29, 2004

To view the news item (PDF Format), please click here.

Since the spring Enable has gained a wide range of exciting and challenging projects for both new and existing clients. New clients include Scope, Sugro, Bestway, GKN, Atkins Global, ESS (Compass Group) and Transnational.

The joint venture between Enable Software and Infomatrix has been very successful and the companies are significantly benefiting from shared resources.

With many new projects under way it promises to be a busy time for Enable and we will continue to keep you informed of the progress.

Open the PDF to read more.

Enabled—Spring 2004 Newsletter

Filed as NewslettersPosted April 20, 2004

To view the news item (PDF Format), please click here.

Enable Software and Infomatrix join forces to form ’Enable Infomatrix’.

Infomatrix specialises in improving business performance through web based performance measurement and risk management solutions. For years Infomatrix has been a large client of Enable. In February Enable and Infomatrix merged and started a new Company together—Enable Infomatrix.

Enable Infomatrix combines the people and skills of both companies, and provides Health & Safety, Property Tracking, KPI, and Performance Measurement solutions. Clients already include Sainsburys, Highways Agency, and the Health & Safety Executive.

Open the PDF to read more.

Shortt En-livened by work

Filed as Company NewsPosted March 3, 2004

To view the news item (PDF Format), please click here.

The clouds are low and a cold grey mist has enveloped the hills around Wellesbourne aerodrome. Damp tendrils work their way around trees as a thin splatter of rain marks the helicopter with tiny baubles. It is, says entrepreneur and sometime helicopter pilot, Denys Shortt, a bad, dangerous, day for flying.

He gives the helicopter a last, gentle pat on the tail and we head into the steady safe ground of the Heli-Air hut, where we are kindly lent an office.

With plans duly abandoned for an inflight interview, the founder of DCS Europe sits down and tells me about how he set up what has become one of the most successful Midlands start-ups of recent years.

Open the PDF to read more.

Enable CEO in UK Top 10 Entrepreneurs

Filed as AwardsPosted January 1, 2004

At just 39 years of age, Denys Shortt, founder of Enable and parent group DCS Europe plc, has been ranked 10th in the first ever Top 100 Entrepreneurs list compiled by Britain’s leading business magazine, Management Today. He is the youngest person in the Top 10.

As true heroes of the British economy, Britain’s entrepreneurs create thousands of new jobs and have helped to fund the huge increase in public spending over the past five years.

Stratford based Denys Shortt formed his company DCS Europe in 1994 whilst working for his family’s business Shakespeare Products. He quickly built the company into a leading distributor of health and beauty products. Beyond the distribution business he also developed a range of health and beauty brands called En-liven, En-visage and En-essence, which sell in Makro, Bewise and TM Retail Stores in the UK. DCS exports En brands to more than 65 countries around the world through its export division exportbrands.com.

After finding that internet solutions for his online sales growth were expensive and poor quality, Shortt moved into the field of web software and developed his own software company, Enable. Little wonder that over the past nine years sales at DCS have zoomed from zero to £72 million, making it one of the fastest growing firms in sales terms in MT’s Top 100.

Despite its phenomenal growth Shortt still regards DCS Europe as a family business and finds that as a result his staff range in age from 17 to 75. DCS employs 100 people—Enable employs 18 people.

"Each of the individuals on MT’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs List are the greenhouse of our economy, nurturing the seeds of business that may grow into the multinationals of tomorrow. Denys Shortt encapsulates the true spirit of entrepreneurship. He can see a gap in the market, he’s prepared to take a risk and he works hard to achieve his goals. I think we’re going to see a lot more of Shortt in the future," comments MT editor, Matthew Gwyther.

Shortt is man driven to succeed in every area of his life. He’s represented England in Hockey—a sport that still remains close to his heart as he now coaches at Cheltenham College School and plays for Lansdown Hockey Club. When not in hockey boots he’s in a helicopter, competing regularly in the British Helicopter Championships.

(Denys comments, "I am thrilled to be in the Top 100. I have a great team but am never satisfied with my business or any other I look at—there is always more that can be done. Enthusiasm for growth and energy for improvement and innovation, that’s what entrepreneurship is all about and the Top 100 certainly helps that process along.")

Notes to editors:

Rules for Top 100

  • Covers three or four years of accounts rather than the standard five.
  • Wealth valuations are drawn from share prices as listed in the Financial Times in late October 2003, or latest accounts available for private companies and the appropriate price/earnings multiple used (usually about 10-12).
  • The entrepreneurs are ranked by taking into account the sum total of their ranking on wealth (1-100), the ranking of the percentage rises in turnover (also 1-100), and the ranking for numbers of employees. The lowest score wins, and is meant to reflect how well the entrepreneur is doing him or herself (his/her own stake in the company), how well that company has performed (turnover growth) and what it is doing for the community (in terms of jobs growth). Relying on the percentage growth for turnover and employment creates a more level playing field for small and large companies.
  • Family stakes, those in trust or held by offspring are agglomerated under the entrepreneur’s name. For brevity’s sake, we dispense with the term ’and family’.
  • We have relied on the latest accounts filed at Companies House before the end of October 2003. Later accounts will be reflected in next year’s list.
  • To enter the top 100, entrepreneurs must either have started a business or inherited it and built it to much greater success. We also include those who have bought an ailing concern and turned it around.
  • As a deliberate attempt to find the newer blood among the UK’s entrepreneurs, few companies with a turnover of more than £100 million are listed, and we have tried to impose a cut-off of £150 million.

Further details.

  • Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today, will be available for interview.
  • Selected members of the list are available for interview and this can be arranged with Colman Getty PR on request.
  • ’Enterprise Nation’ is published in the January issue of Management Today, Britain’s leading business magazine, out on Monday 29 December 2003, price £3.80.

Sugro: putting the UK's CTNs online

Filed as Case StudyPosted November 28, 2003

Enable has been contracted to design and supply the software behind a major new wholesaling initiative—Sugro OnLine, which launches on January 5, 2004.

Sugro is a UK buying group of wholesalers that specialises in confectionery, soft drinks and cigarettes sales, supplying CTNs and petrol forecourts all over the UK.

It will enable retailers to place orders over the Internet and then get a delivery within three days from one of the Sugro members. The whole of the UK and Northern Ireland is covered by Sugro.

“This is the type and level of challenge we relish. We will deliver a process that makes a genuine difference to smaller retailers, but while it will make a huge difference to the way they operate, it will be highly un-intrusive on their time,” said Denys Shortt, Chief Executive of Enable.

But while Denys is one of the key players behind Enable, he also has a enormously valuable foot in the other camp: Denys Shortt has 21 years of experience in the Grocery industry behind him and knows what is needed to make things happen.

Enable is part of his DCS Europe distribution business—a £72m household goods supply group—one of Europe’s most successful organisations in its field.

“Enable started up as dot-coms were beginning to turn into dot-gones, but Enable has grown and grown because is all about providing benefits and value from using the Internet as a platform for business software,” he said.

"Sugro is a ’bricks and mortar business’ and with a solid base can reap the rewards of an on-line ordering system," he added.

"We have the most up to date software and the Sugro Online service is available for the convenience of all our customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sugro will operate with a comprehensive product range and promotional offers in all of the product categories."

Sugro On-line is expected to hit sales of £9 million in its first year.

Double CBI award nomination for Enable

Filed as AwardsPosted October 20, 2003

Enable’s parent company, DCS Europe, has been nominated for two awards in the CBI/Real Business Growing Business Awards.

DCS chief executive Denys Shortt has been named as a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year category for his huge efforts and success in building and driving six companies within the DCS Europe Group—DCS Central, Export Brands, En Brands, DCS Packaging Services, DCS Property and Enable Software—while DCS itself has been nominated in the Technology in Business category.

"These nominations are always a surprise, and while it may appear that each time a nomination or an award comes our way it means we have succeeded or reached the conclusion of our efforts, it actually works the other way round: we may have worked hard to succeed—but we’re actually hungry for even greater improvement," said Denys Shortt.

The Entrepreneur of the Year category, supported by Allied Irish Bank (GB), is a major accolade for the winner. This award will be won by a truly impressive individual who has contributed to their company, industry sector and community.

The judges—led by Digby Jones (pictured right), Director-General of the CBI—will be looking for an individual whose contribution to their company, community and the wide economy is both extraordinary—and measurable.

The Technology in Business award, supported by Vodafone recognises that the dot-com bubble may have burst, but many businesses are still deploying technology to drive growth and success. The award identifies and celebrates small and mid-sized companies that put technology at the heart of their business—and see improved performance, and increased sales and profits as a result.

The judges are looking for companies that have been galvanised and transformed by the effective use of information and communications technology. In particular, they will look for:

  • A clear and innovative strategy.
  • Imaginative use of internal and external resources.
  • Powerful and measurable results—such as additional sales, access to new markets, or enhanced productivity and/or profitability.

The awards dinner takes place on Thursday December 4, 2003 at the London Hilton on Park Lane.

The Growing Business Awards have set the gold standard for Britain’s entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies employing between one and 500 employees.

Backed by Real Business, the leading UK magazine for growing companies, and the CBI, the voice of British business, the Awards are unique in their independence and in their being open to both individuals and companies.

Categories & sponsors:

  • New Product of the Year, Trade Partners UK
  • International Initiative of the Year, Royal Mail
  • Most Promising Young Company, The Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Innovative Company of the Year, Investors in People
  • Technology in Business, Vodafone
  • Entrepreneur of the Year, Allied Irish Bank
  • Company of the Year, KPMG
  • Entrepreneurs’ Entrepreneur, Grant Thornton

Enable at the ECM Show: The Future of UK Business is Written on a Sheet of A4

Filed as EventsPosted September 26, 2003

STRATFORD UPON AVON, ENGLAND. Un-necessarily complex software drives directors nuts and slows down business. Enable sets out to re-write the DNA of business software—and succeeds.

With IT solutions getting ever more complicated and sophisticated, Enable believes the way forward is "treeware"—a single sheet of A4 instructions for its software.

Andrew Butt, Managing Director of Enable, believes an average UK company would turn round decisions and deals many times faster if it installed software that the directors actually understood. And the answer could be written on that single sheet of A4.

Hope or belief? Well, fact, actually. Enable is used by Sainsbury’s, Goldman Sachs, HarperCollins and Delphi Automotive amongst others, and one of the world’s greatest IT companies, Sage Software.

"It’s a running joke across business—the boss who can’t make his computer do what he wants it to. But it stops being a joke when it prevents the company running efficiently in a business environment when ’right now’ is the standard," said Andrew Butt of Stratford-upon-Avon-based Enable.

"Hard-nosed business people waste no time: they take ’route one’—the term from hockey meaning the most direct route to goal—and anything that delays or distracts infuriates them, so they change the way they run their business lives to avoid obstruction.

"They don’t want to hear that a three hour training course ’will be an investment’, they want to know which three buttons to hit to get or deliver a piece of information right this second. That’s what we’ve created.

"In fact, we’ve hit the nail so squarely on the head that while we’ve sold more than £1 million worth of the software—we’ve had to cancel the training course because there are no takers. Nobody needs it. The instructions are on a single sheet of A4, and it takes ten minutes to get up and running.

"Signs of simplification are everywhere. You turn the key in a car and a massive number of things happen at once—the driver is not aware of 99% of them: computers booting, fuel being pressurised, ignition optimised for the ambient temperature, even airbag sensors establishing how many passengers there are. Do you want to know this, or need to know this?

"You don’t want to go through a pre-flight-style check, or be told by the car that you’re an idiot because systems were not switched on in the correct sequence. No, you want to turn the key and drive off.

"That’s the way software can be, and the way business can operate."

Editor’s notes:

Enterprise Content Management 2003 is an event dedicated to helping organisations lower the costs of content management, document management, websites management and intranets and extranets while releasing the knowledge they contain. The event will demonstrate how this is going to work across the enterprise, how to integrate it with the major legacy applications, and support the users, while delivering maximum market impact and ensuring that all communications are consistent. The event is build around free seminars and case studies across four streams—Web Content Management, Document, Knowledge and Information Management, October 7 to 9, 2003.

DCS Europe plc new site 5 times larger than previous!

Filed as DCS GroupPosted September 3, 2001

DCS Europe plc the toiletries and household distributor based in Atherstone-on-Stour have purchased the site formerly known as Stratford-upon-Avon Foods. The site covers 10.5 acres in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Industrial District providing warehousing space of over 270,000 sq ft—a massive five times larger than DCS’s current site.

DCS currently employ 50 people and are expecting sales this year of over £60 million. New jobs are being created as they continue to expand their ’DCS Central’ distribution business supplying Cash and Carry’s nationwide with major UK toiletry brands.

"Stratford upon Avon Foods has a long association with the town and we are delighted that we are able to offer a number of jobs to the existing workforce." says Denys Shortt, Chairman of DCS Europe plc.

DCS supplies toiletries and household goods to retailers and wholesalers throughout the UK. They have also developed their own brands called "En-liven", En-visage and En-essence which sell in Makro, Bewise and T&S Stores in the UK. DCS export En Brands to more than 45 countries around the world through their export division exportbrands.com

"Our EN range brings many employment opportunities as we currently have all the products contract packed by at least 8 different manufacturers around the UK. Perhaps we will be filling shampoo bottles one day—who knows—with so much space our options are endless!" says Denys Shortt.

Last year DCS started a new internet software division. With the huge growth of DCS Europe plc Denys Shortt was frustrated with poor internet solutions at very expensive prices—so he decided to start his own internet software company. DCS now provide web content management solutions for companies both small and large in the UK and the USA having developed a solution called ENABLE which allows businesses to change text or pictures within a web site within seconds.

"We have expert programmers who understand the internet inside out" says Denys Shortt "This means we can give our clients—right product, right price and with the right service."

Recent wins include extensive work for the massive 35 billion dollar automotive company Delphi USA as well as Hunting plc, the British Cattle Veterinary Association and locally the Cotswold House Hotel in Chipping Campden. The internet division is currently recruiting for additional internet programmers.

DCS Europe plc have won many prestigious business awards in recent years including Exporter of the Year and was ranked 36th in Britains Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies (Virgin Fast Track 100).

Denys Shortt also won Entrepreneur of the Year for the Midlands region last year and comments, "We are a young company with endless energy to achieve our goals. We hope that Stratford-upon-Avon will benefit from our success."

International distribution award for DCS

Filed as DCS GroupPosted July 24, 2000

Former international hockey player and keen helicopter pilot Denys Shortt, who in just six years has built his Stratford-based distribution business to an annual turnover of 34.6 million pounds has scooped a major award in a competition for entrepreneurs.

Mr. Shortt has been presented with the Business to Business Entrepreneur Award in the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards Programme.

He set up the company in 1994 and at the end of the first year had already achieved sales of £5 million. DCS Europe plc is now exporting to 63 countries worldwide and as well as the impressive export side to the business, the company also distributes to 57 cash & carrys across the UK.

The firm distributes a number of major household names in the health and beauty product market such as Cussons, Alberto and Proctor and Gamble, as well as its own newly developed range of toiletries, branded En-liven.

The firm has 50 employees and transports around 7 million boxes each year with an average value of £5 each.

Mr Shortt is among eleven winners named as Entrepreneurs Of The Year in the central region, which covers the West and East Midlands, East Anglia, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

The awards were presented at a banquet held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole hotel on July 3.

The central region awards were presented by television personality Mr Clive Anderson.

Andy Clewer from Ernst & Young’ Birmingham office said: "The level and quality of the candidates in this, the second year of the programme in this country, just goes to show that the region is a hotbed of flourishing entrepreneurial businesses."

"Entrepreneurs do not receive enough recognition and these awards are intended to redress the balance and to help in lobbying for a supportive environment for entrepreneurs."

The programme was created in 1986 by Ernst & Young in the US, where it is now established as the premier awards scheme of its type. This year the awards are taking place in 20 countries across five continents.

UK winners will automatically become lifetime members of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Institute, a worldwide network of highly successful business people.

In the UK, there are five sets of regional winners, who go through to a national final in October. The overall UK Entrepreneur Of The Year will go forward to the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in Monte Carlo in May 2001.

DCS Europe plc in Britain's Top 100

Filed as DCS GroupPosted January 2, 1999

The Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100, a 32 page report was published Dec 6th with the newspaper, ranks the fastest-growing unquoted companies according to their compound annual sales growth between 1994 and 1997. DCS Europe plc (formerly called DCS Commodities) are ranked No. 36 in the top 100. Furthermore DCS ranks as high as 10th in the "total sales rankings" and is 5th in the list of distributors! This is amongst very strong competition from other large UK companies such as Carphone warehouse and Software warehouse.

After spending 22 years in India and Kenya managing tea plantations, Peter Shortt returned to Warwickshire in 1975 and founded a groceries wholesaler. Formerly known as Shakespeare Products, his DCS Commodities has evolved into a toiletries distributor.

His son, Denys, a former international hockey player, is its chief executive. Shortt Sr’s other three sons manage different areas of the business.The company originally distributed groceries to neighbourhood supermarkets but soon recognised that small shops were rapidly being replaced by superstores. Changing tack, DCS started an export division called Export Brands International. Today it delivers toiletries to 53 countries all over the world.

Sales have grown from £5.2m in 1994 to £36m in 1997. Denys Shortt attributes the company’s success to its investment in technology. For example DCS uses plasma screens, EDI, and has three web sites on the internet.The future looks bright for DCS—recently they have launched their own brand of hair care products called Enliven. In just three months they have already sold a quarter of a million bottles of shampoo to ten countries. Denys Shortt says "Sales have been much better than expected and we now plan to expand the Enliven range. We think we are onto a winner!"

DCS have also recently won a £10 million contract to deliver to 27 Makro depots throughout the country and will soon start a £2 million contract in delivering the Lifestyle brand to 57 Landmark Cash & Carries.

The future looks bright for DCS Europe plc.

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