Business owners Walt Friedel and Penny Wilson know all about challenges, facing external forces with determination, innovation and positivity while expanding their business nationwide.
In 2018, when Walt and Penny bought D/K Distribution Limited, the business imported Scandinavian jewellery from the Danish brand Dyrberg/Kern. Just a few years later, Walt and Penny have grown the business to include four new brands, expanding their product line to offer stunning European jewellery, gloves, handbags and scarves. D/K Distribution is synonymous with sleek, modern, minimalist design and high-quality products. “We’ve been building the business, creating a more diversified portfolio of complementary products,” Walt said. “Our customers appreciate having different products in our stores. Those four new brands make up 50% of our sales now.”
This impressive growth comes in spite of numerous challenges, such as a massive restructure at Dyrberg/Kern in Denmark and the rise of COVID-19. “We were just starting to get a grip on the restructure when COVID hit. It was especially tough for us as we import from overseas,” Walt explained. D/K Distribution faced uncertainty around shipping costs and timing, and the closure of their stores for lockdowns had a significant impact on sales. “It took a long time to bounce back, especially in retail where no one can work from home.”
And yet, D/K Distribution continues to grow and thrive. How? Working with Chris Smith, Director at Leech & Partners, Walt and Penny formulated a strategic plan to diversify and expand the business. This allowed D/K Distribution to offer a wider product range and protected the business against the risk of their one supplier being unable to supply product to them. “Chris was very helpful in our restructuring, looking at our strategy and goals,” Walt said. Walt now meets with Chris once a month to discuss the business, take a step back from the day-to-day operations and look at the big picture. “It has really stepped up the way our business operates and given us confidence moving forward.”
Part of their strategic plan involved modernising systems and moving to the Cloud. Georgia Goodman was invaluable in making this happen, introducing Xero, Shopify and Unleashed to make everything run smoothly and efficiently. “This was an important part of offering new brands,” Walt explained. “One brand is relatively simple, but offering five brands with different ways of coding inventory and different product lines is complex. Georgia helped us with this and Ange Cook helped us by looking at our business costs, revenue and profitability. Now we have a good idea of what is working and what isn’t.”
D/K Distribution has been with Leech & Partners for about a year and Walt is pleased with the partnership. “It’s important to have relationships with people when you’re a small business, people you can trust and work with and get along well with. With Leech & Partners, it’s more than just straight accounting and tax compliance. Leech & Partners understand our business.”
D/K Distribution is a stellar example of a business that views hardship as an opportunity to grow stronger and work smarter. “We’ve had some challenges, but there’s always a way through a challenge, isn’t there?” Walt said. “A bit of adversity makes a business stronger.”