Regenerated distributor Dataflow has announced it has another new investor in the form of a multimillion-dollar stake jointly taken by investment bankers Allco Finance Group and Brait Capital. And the investment is another big step towards redemption for the, at times, turbulent distributor.
It is the second significant financial investor in the company and comes at a time when, according to founder, managing director and executive chairman Jeffrey Tobias, Dataflow is eyeing the e-tail segment and ramping up its fulfilment operation. "We want to be large enough to be significant, but small enough to be agile, nimble and innovative," Tobias said.
Allco director David Veal described the attraction to the company as being its developing capacity to provide rapid fulfilment to both the bricks and mortar and growing online retail channels.
While the distributor has spent the last year ramping up its systems and infrastructure, including moving into a new site at Sydney's Lane Cove, it has been a time when it has had to reinvent itself. After the loss of the Microsoft distribution business, it secured a raft of predominantly retail-focused products, both from software vendors and publishers as well as a range of hardware peripherals. "We're now starting to see the results of that work," Tobias enthused.
It has also had to weather criticism of its involvement in fulfilment, as it walked a fine line between its traditional distribution model and what Tobias described as "the seamless integration with its online retailers".
Tobias refutes any suggestion of dealing with end users. "Dataflow is a distribution and fulfilment engine. We're here to be the business-to-business link between vendors and publishers to resellers, whether they are Harvey Norman, an e-tailer or a small reseller in Darwin. He claimed that its distribution model meets whatever way resellers want product fulfilled, into their stores or direct to the customer.
As well as Tobias' personal holding, Dataflow's other major investor is Hambro-Grantham (HG), which has a substantial number of investments in high technology-related companies. And Tobias said that the new investor is not a newcomer to the company or high-tech investments. Tobias revealed that a representative from Allco had previously been providing strategic consulting to the Dataflow board, and it is the second Internet-related business investment made by the partnership. He would not disclose the amount of the investment, but did say that it was a "significant enough amount to realise the business plans for the next couple of years", and results in the company being a three-way split between himself, HG and Allco/Brait.