May 5 2016

Plaque marks UK tea industry date
by Chris Smith   7th December 2016

Stratford businessman Denys Shortt, third from left, with fellow members of the London Tea History Association’s board at St Katharine Docks in London.

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON businessman Denys Shortt was at the unveiling a bronze plaque in London that commemorates 335 years of the tea industry in the city.


Mr Shortt, who runs the DCS Group, which employs 300 people in Stratford, is a member of The London Tea History Association’s board after spending his early years on tea estates in Assam and in Uganda and Kenya.


He lived with his parents in Assam for 22 years, for the first ten years on the Langharjan Tea Estate, before moving to tea estates in Fort Portal in Uganda, and then Thika in Kenya. As well as sitting on the association’s board Mr Shortt also sponsors the tea planters website www.koi-hai.com


The plaque is located at St Katharine Docks in London where approximately 32,000 tons of tea from China, India and Ceylon passed through in a year.


It is the first of four plaques the association intends to put up around key sites in the capital.


The plaque that was unveiled by the London Tea History Association’s board at St Katharine Docks in London.



'Elephant Man' who staged daring WWII rescues

    • 1 November 2010
  • From the sectionUK
Media captionGyles Mackrell's own footage shows how elephants were used to rescue hundreds of refugees, stranded by flood waters in Burma in World War II

He was known as "The Elephant Man" in the newspapers of the time - but only now has the full story of one of World War II's most remarkable rescues come to light.

British tea planter Gyles Mackrell organised the evacuation of hundreds of people from Burma into British India in 1942 in the face of the Japanese advance in South Asia.

It's a remarkable story of courage, spirit and ingenuity that took place at a time when no one was sure what the consequences of the war in the Far East would beDr Annamaria Motrescu, Cambridge University Centre of South Asian Studies

There was only one way Mackrell could save those whose flight from the enemy was blocked by monsoon-swollen rivers at the border - by elephant.

Knowledge of his epic deeds has faded since, with Mackrell's modesty over events no doubt playing a part.

Now the tale is set to get a new lease of life after the donation to Cambridge University of a collection of letters, diaries and even amateur film footage documenting the extraordinary escapes.

Mackrell, aged 53 at the time, had spent most of his life in Assam - where he worked as an area supervisor for Steel Brothers tea exporters - when the call for help came.

The Burmese capital Rangoon had fallen and tens of thousands of people, many of them sick or wounded, made the trek across hundreds of miles and through dense jungle in search of the safety of the Indian border.

Starvation fear

By May 1942, groups of evacuees were stranded on the banks of the narrow rivers dividing the two countries, torrential monsoon rains making the waters almost impossible to cross. The RAF dropped food supplies but the British were able to do little more.

Mackrell, who had access to elephants through his work, was told about the situation on 4 June 1942 by a group who had managed to breach the Dapha River by forming a human chain while the water level was at a low.

Newspaper cuttingImage captionMackrell's exploits were reported at the time but became almost forgotten

Mackrell wrote in his diary, which makes up part of the collection: "I promised to collect some elephants and move off as quickly as I could as they told me the party behind would be starving, especially if they got held up by the rivers."

After initially rescuing a group of 86 soldiers trapped on a mid-river island, about 200 people had been saved by September that year.

At one stage Mackrell had to go back to Assam to recover from fever before returning to the Dapha.

The collection has been donated to the university's Centre of South Asian Studies by Mackrell's niece and an independent researcher, Denis Segal.

Archivist Dr Kevin Greenbank said: "The story is a sort of Far-Eastern Dunkirk, but it has largely been forgotten since the war.

"Without the help of Mackrell and others like him, hundreds of people fleeing the Japanese advance would quite simply never have made it."

Modest hero

The records include the testimony of some of those who were rescued, such as railway engineer John Rowland who describes how his group resorted to eating fern fronds to supplement the little food they had.

Wednesday, 10 June 1942

At 2am a different tune in the roar of the water brought me wide awake and I found the level falling. By 4am it was down to 3 to 4ft and was free of the logs and drift that had been such a terror to the elephants before...

The mahouts [elephant drivers] needed no urging. Rungdot, a Kampti elephant was the first to be ready and by 5.30 he was over...

By 7am he was back in camp with the first three refugees…

The others came in a few at a time and by midday we had the whole 68...

Within two hours of the last elephant and man to reach my camp, the snow water came down again and the whole island on which these men had been penned for 7 days was swept by a roaring torrent in which no human being could have survived.

Extracts from the diary of Gyles Mackrell

He wrote: "There is no nutriment in the additional diet.

"At all events it forms bulk and with luck it is hoped to spin out the rations for 24 days, after which, if no relief party or aeroplane arrives with rations, it is recognised that we must die of starvation."

A short note from Sir RE Knox, of the Treasury's Honours Committee in London, appears in the collection.

He concluded that the risk of death Mackrell faced "could be put, very roughly, at George Medal: 50 to 80%".

Mackrell did receive the George Medal and died in Suffolk in 1959.

Research associate Dr Annamaria Motrescu said: "Mackrell was embarrassed by the attention he received and even worried that people would think he had returned to the Dapha in the pursuit of a second medal.

"In fact, it's a remarkable story of courage, spirit and ingenuity that took place at a time when no one was sure what the consequences of the war in the Far East would be. It deserves to be remembered."

A short film about Mackrell's story is being released on the university's YouTube site, www.youtube.com/cambridgeuniversity.


February 22 2015

Delighted to show the honours Denys Shortt our great supporter has joined the
Top 100 people in the UK helping students and entrepreneurs with advice.

This is called the Maserati100 and is published by the Sunday Times


November 9 2013

Our great supporter Denys Shortt continues to win accolades

Please click to read all




October 14, 2013

Our sincere Congratulations to Denys


2013.10 DCS joins UK Top 250

DCS Europe of Stratford-upon-Avon has entered the Sunday Times Britain’s Top 250 Private Companies for the first time. The full listing will be published in the Sunday Times on 13th October 2013.
This award completes a hat trick for DCS. The Company has been ranked in Fasttrack 100 , Techtrack 100 and now the Top Track 250.
DCS is one of very few companies in the UK to achieve this accolade.
DCS started in 1994 and is the UK’s official sales, marketing and distribution company for major manufacturers such as P&G, Unilever, Colgate, SC Johnson, Osram and L’Oreal. DCS also owns the Enliven brand which is exported to 70 countries. DCS saw sales of £148 million in 2012 and are placed 220th in the Top 250.
Denys Shortt, Founder of DCS said “Ever since we were ranked as one of Britain’s Fastest Growing Companies in 1998 we have wanted to win a place in the Top 250. 15 years later year we have done it !”
Together the Top Track Companies employ 410,000 people and generated £68 billion sales representing a 15% increase on last year – the equivalent of 4.5% of UK GDP.  32% of the companies are owned by an entrepreneur.
DCS features on the league table alongside national household names such as Virgin Active, Camelot, Pets at Home, Selfridges, RAC and Pret a Manger.
The Top Track 250 is sponsored by Grant Thornton and Barclays, and compiled by Fast Track, the Oxford-based networking events and research company.
David Maxwell, partner at Grant Thornton, the title sponsor of the league table, praised the region’s mid-market stars:
“It is great to see private mid-sized businesses – including many which Grant Thornton has helped support – making such a positive contribution to the UK economy.
“Impressive leadership is ensuring they prosper despite tough trading conditions, with many companies expanding through their international operations and all making sure they retain and engage talented people in the UK.”
For the full listing - click here



Dec 29 2012

 Our great supporter of Koi-Hai   DENYS C.SHORTT  has been awarded the OBE in the New Years Honours of 1/1/2013. We offer our heartiest congratulations to Denys

Press Release

Denys Shortt - entrepreneur and founder of DCS Europe plc in Stratford-upon-Avon has been awarded an OBE in the New Year's honours list for services to the economy.

Denys, known for his endless energy and enthusiasm, started his first business DCS Europe in 1994.  His company DCS is now the UK's leading distributor of health, beauty and household brands with sales of £150 million and 250 employees. Denys has also created two technology companies - Enable Software and Deal Track Limited which employ 30 people.

Denys has created the Enliven brand - a range of health and beauty products which are Made in England and where millions of bottles are exported to 70 countries world wide. He recently invested over £4 million into a new toiletries factory in Stratford-upon-Avon with the aim to help revive British Manufacturing. 

In his younger days Denys had a very different career in mind.   After attending Eagle House School, it was at Warwick School at age 15 where he was selected to play hockey for England.

Denys believes his drive and determination comes from his younger days playing international hockey. His aim was to follow a career in sport and he decided not to attend university but instead work for his father, a former tea planter in Assam, who in the 80's was manufacturing and selling tea under the Shakespeare brand in Henley-in-Arden.  Denys' focus quickly moved to business as he honed his skills in sales and finance. In his late 20's he started DCS - after his initials.

Aside from running his business Denys is very active in local and national community organisations as well as advising other businesses.

In December 2010 he was appointed Chairman of the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.  He led the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP to national recognition with several successes. He also organised and Chaired the first National LEP Conference in Coventry with Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

At a local level in Stratford-upon-Avon Denys has formed Stratford Vision - a group focussed on improving the local economy and creating a jobs and growth plan for Shakespeare's home town for the next 20 years. 

Denys is currently on the Board of Warwick Business School and advises at the Royal Agricultural College on entrepreneurship. He is a former Governor of Cheltenham College.

Denys donates considerable time as well as funding to his local Stratford community - supporting the Shakespeare Hospice, Orchestra of the Swan and the Pride of Stratford Awards. He is also a Director and the main sponsor of Stratford Town Football Club where he has recently started a Junior Academy.  In hockey Denys supports Great Britain as well as the new National Hockey Museum.

Denys lives in the Cotswolds and in his spare time he runs a farm breeding pedigree belted Galloway cattle.  Aside from farming his passion is flying -  he has been a helicopter pilot for 14 years.

Stratford-upon-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi congratulated Denys on his honour, "Denys is one of our country's great entrepreneurs. He's an unstoppable force who has built not just a fantastic global business right here in Stratford Upon Avon, but also been a major driving force behind the success of Local Enterprise Partnerships both in Coventry and Warwickshire and nationally. The country needs more people like Denys and I'm delighted his efforts have been rewarded."

On being included in the New Year's honours list, Denys said, "I am absolutely delighted and proud to receive this honour. Britain is a great place to build a business and I am delighted that entrepreneurship is recognised within the Queen's New Year's Honours list".


 Contact Details :

Denys Christopher Shortt