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BRW Lifecycle: Growth

   

Take experience and youth; combine them with the glue between father and son; and prove for three-and-a-half years. Kym Houden, 55, and his 25-year-old son Daniel have followed this recipe to create Task Retail Technology, a company headquartered in Sydney, and a point-of-sale system that has attracted some big-name clients.

   

In July, they beat a field that included IBM and InfoGenesis to secure a 1050-store contract with Retail Food Group, owner of the Donut King, Michel’s Patisserie and Brumby’s Bakery chains.

 

Kym Houden says this and earlier wins, including Sydney Turf Club’s two metropolitan racetracks, will take annual sales this financial year to more than $7 million. After three decades of selling other companies’ systems to big retailers such as Harvey Norman and Coles Myer, Houden knew the greatest strength of the POS industry - its longevity - was also its Achilles heel.  Shopkeepers the world over have come to rely on standard POS systems to handle billions of transactions a day. Ironically, this success has made the industry’s top names vulnerable by hampering their move from proprietary networks to the internet. “Companies like IBM and InfoGenesis have a legacy of old systems, which they find difficult to just shut off and start something new,” Houden says.  

 

His son had no such qualms about upending what he found after joining Task Retail straight from school in 2001. Within three years “he became very frustrated supporting proprietary legacy systems which were not addressing client’s requirements, and decided he could do better”, his father says. Daniel Houden had no formal training or experience in computer programming, yet he developed a system to flick the details of millions of customer transactions across the internet in a matter of seconds. Its appeal to franchisors such as Retail Food - which waited weeks for store owners to upload store information over dial-up modems - was obvious. But by bringing in partners such as Microsoft and NCR, the Houdens ensured they would get far enough in the door to show off their systems.  

 

As well as increasing the accountability of franchisees to head office, the xchangexec system supports orders by means of SMS and can present two-for-one and other offers to customer based on what they are already buying or, in the case of loyalty card holders, what they bought previously.

 

Through its arrangement with Retail Food and another deal with the Foodco Group, owner of Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue chains, Task Retail is entering China and other Asian markets. Houden is eyeing markets further afield, having just returned from three weeks in Los Angeles and New York. “In Australia we talk about a large chain being 1050 stores. [United States Chain] Dunkin’ Donuts has 16,000,” he says.

 

Still, Houden knows well-resourced competition will not stand still. But he is betting Task Retail can be nimbler. “We have got a three to four-year jump on those guys,” he says. “Some of the software out there is still in DOS (the Microsoft precursor to its Windows operating system). There is a lot of development time in there [for rivals].

 

Learn more about BRW Lifecycle >>

 
 



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© Task Retail Technology Pty. Ltd. 2012
© Task Retail Technology Pty. Ltd. 2012