Direct Group was founded on a commitment to build enduring customer relationships. Our first product launch onto the Australian market took place in 1981 with a range of jewellery offered exclusively to the member lists of two leading credit card companies. As this business strengthened in both Australia and New Zealand, the product range was gradually increased, and by 1985 the Group was able to build our own independent database of customers. No longer reliant on these credit card companies to acquire customers, and with a database experiencing rapid growth, Innovations Direct was born.
The 1990s was a period of rapid growth for the Group, driven chiefly by the decision to focus entirely on selling directly to customers with the launch of Homecare in 1993. Soon after, we positioned ourselves as the first direct seller of mobile phones in Australia with the launch of Mobile Innovations.
The end of the decade was a period of significant change, with online shopping starting to make significant impact on the way our customers wanted to shop. To satisfy this interest, the Group launched nine separate shopping websites, each one tailored to meet the trends and value for money expectations our catalogue customers had come to expect.
To accommodate the demands for reliable warehouse space created by this rapid expansion, in 1999, the Group moved to a 5.3-hectare property with office block and warehouse facilities, located in Frenchs Forest, Sydney. With a new home base, the Group was able to maximise efficiencies across all sections of the business, from customer service, warehousing, and dispatch as well as planning, marketing and corporate activities.
The focus on online sales and direct marketing of the Group’s mobile phone business proved so successful that in 1999, Mobile Innovations was publicly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, then shortly after was acquired by Seven West Media.
The growth and evolution of the business continued into the new century. With a clear understanding of our customers’ interests, we extended our brand range to include craft and hobbies with the purchase of The Fox Collection, as well as clothing and apparel for mature women with the acquisition of Damart.
As the decade progressed, the Group was ready to explore fresh business opportunities in the direct to consumer retail space. In 2004, this confidence resulted in the purchase of TVSN and Expo Channel. This comprised a new and different selling proposition and gave fresh impetus to the Group’s expansion, allowing it to position itself as a leader in the direct to consumer retail industry, both in Australia and New Zealand.
Additionally in 2004, the Group entered into a Joint Venture with US based company, GAIAM. The result was the launch of GAIAM Australia and New Zealand focusing on yoga and pilates sporting accessories including media and lifestyle products.
As the Innovations customer base was expanding, we responded to our customers’ needs and tastes with the launch of the music and video brand, Entertainment Masters in 2005, which caters to the tastes of the over-60s audience. Innovations further expanded its fashion business with launch of Victoria Hill.
In 2012, TVSN launched across the free to air network in Australia which expanded its reach to substantially every home in the country. In 2013, TVSN commenced broadcasting into New Zealand.
In 2014-15, House of Pets and Home Collections were added to the Innovations stable, while the fashion side of Innovations was integrated by combining all the brands under a single masthead, Infashion.
In January 2017 Direct Publishing was launched with the acquisiution of the the Reader’s Digest license for Australia and New Zealand. Subsequently in 2018 the licences for parts of Southeast Asia were added. Reader’s Digest was a transformational acquisition, moving the Group into publishing and a wide spectrum of content development.
The Group further expanded its digital publishing reach into the senior market by acquiring Over Sixty and WYZA in 2018. Both these online businesses connect directly with the seniors market by publishing useful information and data highly relevant to this demographics' needs and interests. These new online acquisitions provided an opportunity to cross sell into the Group’s traditional transactional businesses.
By the end of 2018, Direct Group was composed of three distinct divisions: Innovations (with an increasingly online offering) TVSN and Digital Publishing.
In early 2019 the Group acquired Magnamail, a direct marketing company that has operated in Australia since 1974. Selling a unique range of products directly into the home, the Magnamail infrastructure was a great fit to be added to the Direct Group brands.