Duraflex Group Australia, one of Australia’s oldest suppliers to the jewelery industry, celebrates 60 years in business this year.
Throughout its business, the company has weathered many storms, from economic recessions and the global financial crisis to the more recent global pandemic.
Anniversaries not only cause celebration, but also reflection, and Duraflex Group Australia (DGA) Managing Director Phil Edwards said Jeweler it was a time to look back, as well as looking forward.
“We’re a tight-knit team and we’re very proud of our company’s history,” Edwards said.
“More than half of the team have been with the company for 10 years or more and our current senior member will celebrate his 25th birthday with us in 2023.
“Our longstanding success in the industry is a testament to our longstanding relationships with our retail partners. We have forged and nurtured these relationships for many years.
Originally focused on watches, Duraflex was founded in 1962 by Ron Kearns and, although ownership has since changed hands, the company’s humble roots are reflected in today’s name – an amalgamation of “durable and “flexible” – after watch straps.
The company would eventually become the undisputed leader in the local supply of said watch straps, before Ron Kearns joined forces with his son Rod who expanded the business to the distribution of a limited range of jewellery.
The next major change came in 2003, when Phil Edwards acquired the business from the Kearns family.
Edwards said his immediate goal at the time was to expand Duraflex’s international brand distribution portfolio.
“The strategic expansion of our business was key,” he said.
“The retail industry has transformed and changed direction over the decades and our ability as a business to pivot, adapt, change and champion innovation has proven essential. .
“Working closely with business partners and constantly adapting to their diverse business needs while striving to provide the best possible products, prices and services – these points have always been the basis of our success.”
The most important of these brands would be launched three years later in 2006. The formation of a partnership with a little-known European jewelry brand, Thomas Sabo, would radically change Duraflex’s status position in the local industry.
Thomas Sabo was founded in 1984 and took more than two decades to gain international recognition as the trade remained fiercely divided between fine and costume jewelry.
DGA chose to launch the brand at the Sydney Trade Show in August 2006 and at first the trade struggled to gain traction.
It wasn’t until the Charm Club collection was launched in 2007 that popularity increased. Within seven years, Thomas Sabo would be owned by over 300 dealers across Australia and New Zealand.
Edwards said that for DGA, the success of the Thomas Sabo distribution partnership marked an evolution of the business.
“It proved to be essential for DGA’s repositioning as a multi-brand distributor and, in hindsight, was certainly a defining moment,” he said.
“It was also a defining moment for the industry and the development of the branded jewelry category in our local market. DGA is extremely proud to have been one of the leaders in the expansion of the category.”
Fast forward to 2022 and DGA distributes 16 major international brands while remaining a fully Australian owned and operated business. Over 1,100 retail stores are supplied by the company, which remains based in Chatswood, Sydney.
The past few years have been far from smooth for Australian retailers, with the COVID pandemic throwing more than a few wrenches. Some impacts of the pandemic emerged immediately, such as major disruptions to supply chains, lack of direct access to customers, and increased job insecurity.
Edwards said simply surviving the pandemic was not the company’s goal — finding a stronger position was also important.
“It all comes down to working closely with our retail partners by tailoring our services and support to directly meet their unique and individual business needs during any difficult time,” Edwards said.
“For many, when store doors were forcibly closed, they opened online, and we were there to help by providing e-commerce and drop-shipping solutions. For others, it was about weathering the storm together and strategically preparing for reopening with extra support where needed.
“We have also recently redeveloped a new upgraded B2B portal which is ready to launch. The goal is to allow our retailers to place orders more efficiently and easily.
Over the past 60 years, Duraflex has grown from watch straps to European brand jewelry, a range of diamonds and, more recently, Swiss watches.
From there, Duraflex’s attention turns to the International Jewelery Fair, which kicks off in Sydney on August 27, where a distribution relationship with Swiss watchmakers Edox will be launched to a sea of enthusiastic buyers celebrating the premier industry gathering. on a large scale since 2019.
A STORY IN REVIEW
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The age of individualism
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Duraflex falls into the category of diamond jewelry