It’s been a significant year for DCS Group – the UK’s leading distributor of household, health and beauty products. Not only does 2024 mark its 30th anniversary but, for the first time, it has reached £350m, in a sales milestone.

Through its operations in serving the wholesale and convenience sector, as well as other channels including discounters, pharmacies and online, DCS Group has experienced a considerable change of pace since 2021, growing by almost £100m.

Admittedly, value inflation has played a part in that, says chief revenue officer Simon Whitehead. But primarily, its growth has been achieved by driving distribution through data insight and developing its customer and supplier partnerships.

Serving as the approved distributor for many of the UK’s biggest fmcg brands – including Fairy, Colgate and Andrex – has undoubtedly oiled the wheels towards that success.

That’s because it makes DCS Group the exclusive route to market, creating a “one-stop shop” for wholesalers and retailers, while also bringing “faster access to innovation” with suppliers.

But understanding shopper behaviours within the categories it operates is critical, it adds. Especially considering its 300,000 sq ft distribution warehouse in Banbury – which has doubled in size since 2017 – holds up to 24,000 palettes. Clearly, there is a vast level of products to navigate.


DCS Group moved its distributing operations to a facility in Banbury in 2017


It also offers a third-party logistics solution for brands looking to manage the customer relationships themselves, including Grenade 

Its free-to-use category advice website does a lot of that work, helping convenience retailers to understand the top-selling brands and products. Since it launched in January 2023, has grown rapidly, with user numbers increasing by over 220% in the past six months.

These categories are major footfall drivers for stores, according to DCS, with 58% of people who shop for household, health and beauty in convenience marking them as the “reason they went to the store in the first place”.

“It’s there to give independent convenience retailers all the information they need in our categories to set up a bestselling profitable core range,” says DCS Group head of insight Matt Stanton.

“They’re all familiar with the brands, and use a lot of the products at home, but they won’t necessarily know what the top-selling brands are and the various purchasing behaviours within each subcategory.”

It offers planograms, bestseller lists, and shopper behaviour insights to help retailers become “category specialists”. It is beneficial to wholesalers too – such as Bestway and Parfetts – by providing a map on how to set up health and beauty products within company-owned stores and the “must-stock” items for depots.

Following the uptick in engagement, DCS Group refreshed the website in March with new XL planograms to help retailers with more shelf space to maximise sales.

It also added a new feature that allows retailers to submit images to DCS Group, which has the potential to offer them rewards for setting up shelves in a certain way. The business also alludes to using AI to “unlock further growth and efficiencies in our sales channels”.

While convenience stores tend to be more “brand loyal”, also makes recommendations on own label too. Under its planograms, however, it only identifies own-label products with a silhouette image to ensure it remains impartial and caters to the various supply arrangements retailers have.

“Brands are central in the household, health and beauty categories,” says Stanton. “However, own-label plays an important role in many of these categories too, such as handwash, shower gel and haircare products. Many shoppers in these categories are looking for strong value propositions to help them save money.”

In certain personal care categories, DCS Group also recommends its own label brand Enliven, but only when the product “meets an appropriate shopper need and is justified as an honest, unbiased recommendation for retailers”, it says.

With 53 Enliven SKUs, including shampoo, mouthwash and nail varnish remover, its own label aims to “offer great quality products at affordable prices”.

It is produced at its 100,000 sq ft manufacturing factory in Redditch, with sales growing at 16% year on year as it continues to penetrate the market. Enliven is now in 55,000 Travel Lodges, as well as retailers including B&M, Morrisons, The Range and wholesalers Bestway, Filshill and Dhamecha.

DCS Group has 17 years of manufacturing experience with health and beauty products under its belt, with Redditch at the heart of this division – after moving from a smaller factory in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2020.


Redditch has 11 production lines running


DCS Group invested £8.5m when it moved its manufacturing operations to Redditch four years ago

It produces 100 lines overall, with mix of brands such as PZ Cussons’ Original Source and Imperial Leather, alongside Enliven, running Monday to Friday, 6am to 10pm, with 150 workers. There is opportunity to bolster its operations, the business says.

“Based on our future plans, we’re looking to move to a 24/7 operation as we grow volume within the next five years,” says DCS COO Carl Palmer.

“But it’s not just about a resource expansion, we also have opportunities to invest in different machines which means you can produce product faster, more efficiently and into a better standard.”

Enliven forms part of that volume growth, both through category expansion and entering new markets. “We’re now looking at moving into fragrances having done body sprays in the past,” says Whitehead. “Expansion into North America is also of interest for our Enliven brand.”

The business also reveals it is discussion with the big four and e-commerce operators over the prospect of introducing Enliven into their operations.


Demand for its hand sanitiser ‘exploded’ during the Covid-19 pandemic 

It is also planning on working with new suppliers as it expands its ambient categories, including into hot beverages, more petfood and over-the-counter medicines. “It could change some of our channel focus into more specialist markets, such as professional cleaning or pet specialist distribution,” says Whitehead. “But we don’t want to be impatiently expanding categories, we just want to be great what we do.”

As Stanton reiterates: “It’s constant NPD, constant development, but it’s an evolution rather than an revolution.” Clearly, DCS Group’s growth strategy is firmly in place as it sets its sights on reaching £1bn by 2034, with a more immediate target of £500m in next three years.

“We have built a solid foundation over our 30 years, and what looked like the ceiling 10 years ago, is now the floor,” says CEO Michael Lorimer. “We’re in a robust and unique situation to grow over the next decade.”