CREATIVE TALENTS IS THE TRADING NAME OF THERMO CONFIGURATION CC.
Creative Talents is one of the major wholesale distributors of a wide range of craft products in South Africa. Its distribution network consists of 100 agencies country wide and seven retail branches situated in shopping malls in the metropolitan areas. The undertaking has established its own manufacturing facilities for paints, chemicals and other products, all marketed under the Creative Talents brand name.
Business operations are conducted from seven adjacent mini-factory buildings situated in a light industrial sector in Vereeniging, Gauteng, where close to 100 people are employed. The recent establishment of warehouse/retail facilities in the Western Cape region was a first step towards the decentralisation of its wholesale operations.
The business was started in February 1998 as a small retail outlet, selling raw materials used in various crafts (decoupage, scrapbooking, fabric painting etc.). This was at a time when home crafts gained popularity among South African women and expansion was rapid, due largely to a management policy of:
- Selling as comprehensive a range of products as possible consistent with the size of its operations (justifying the motto “your one-stop craft experience”)
- Insisting on a uniform high standard of products from its suppliers.
- Providing good backup to its customers in the form of expert personal advice by the staff and training by experts in various crafting techniques.
These principles still form the basis of management philosophy both at the business headquarters and each of the branches. For this reason managers and staff are handpicked throughout its operations.
Since branches located at major shopping centres are regarded as the most beneficial type of outlet, potential locations for further expansion have been identified and a programme for medium and long-term expansion has been put in place. While the 120 agencies countrywide provide profitable outlets for its products, they are under no obligation to sell Creative Talents products exclusively. Adherence to the client relations policies applicable to branches is encouraged, but cannot be enforced.
The need for dependable supply of products of constantly high quality has led to upstream expansion by:
- Contracting dedicated manufacturers, who supply paints and other chemicals of consistent quality for re-packing under the Creative Talents brand name
- Establishing its own in house manufacturing facilities of wooden blanks and further possibilities are under investigation
- Contracting small manufacturers (often individuals from the previously disadvantaged community) to manufacture small ranges of products (such as establishments for scrap bookers and costume jewellery accessories) which are then sold under the CT label; and imported multiple ranges of craft accessories, that are packaged under the Creative Talents brand. Many of these items are designed in house and are sent off for manufacturing abroad.
The need for downstream expansion into the distribution of finished craft products was identified seven years ago. This was confirmed by regular clients who expressed the need for their finished products and is in line with a trend that has gained considerable ground in the more upmarket malls in metropolitan shopping areas. A crafters’ market was started at the Creative Talents premises in Vereeniging, at which crafters can rent small stalls, racks and even shelves to display their wares. These crafters are now self-made Entrepreneurs and with the help of the crafters’ market staff who handle all sales and administration on their behalf are given the necessary exposure. The floor space had to be doubled within a year and there after three other Gift & décor shops were opened in Bellville, Krugersdorp and Boksburg. The strict product range and quality control is exercised to ensure that the market maintains its upmarket image.
In order to supplement and expand the ranges of products sold at the Crafters’ Market, a variety of finished products are handpicked during the regular overseas visits to suppliers. Regular enquiries from visiting retailers to the markets have indicated that the wholesale distribution of these products into growing South African market is not only feasible, but a necessity.
After a thorough feasibility study the management of Creative Talents is confident that the distribution of these products countrywide can be undertaken with the same confidence about success as the other expansions embarked upon a date:
- Creative Talents has both the expertise and the infrastructure to conduct a business which is complementary to its current operations;
- A major portion of its current distributors (7 branches and 120 agencies) will also be able to distribute the new range of products, which in itself will assure the viability of the project;
- The business is in an ideal position to anticipate and meet the demands of trends in consumer tastes (insofar as they relate to craft raw materials and finished products) through the sales of the various categories of crafts products country wide;
- Creative Talents will be able to supply the market with a sufficiently wide range of products, (both as to variety and price), in the view of its well established worldwide supplier network.
In view of the expected size of the business, it will be conducted by a separate business entity and accordingly steps have been taken to register a new CC. We are pleased to introduce you to our latest venture Designers Choice