As the founder and CEO of The Network Group, Keran Wicks has become a leading identity in Australia’s home entertainment industry, but the story of how she reached these heights is a truly fascinating one.
Bucking the established notion of the traditional business leader background, Keran left school at just 13, initially pumping gas at a petrol station before quickly finding work in Melbourne’s thriving fashion industry, and it only took a few short years for Keran to advance from an entry-level position to reach management.
But when Keran became pregnant with her first son, the fashion retailer she was working for abruptly fired her, solely because she was pregnant. Keran subsequently sued for unfair dismissal, winning an out-of-court settlement, and becoming the test case for recently enacted unfair dismissal laws.
Soon, her passions took her into the movie rental industry, starting a wholesale business selling movies from the boot of her car. As that wholesale business thrived, Keran soon took over her own rental store, dubbed Little Monster Video, after her first son Paul. Keran’s innovative retail and marketing strategies were a key factor in the success of Little Monster, and the store’s turnover increased nearly 900% over the first two years.
However, even as Little Monster hit new records month after month, Keran was still paying more for her stock just because she wasn’t part of an established franchise. So she made her own.
In 1993, The Network Group launched with Network Video, a group founded with the ethos of independence. Over two decades down the track, Network is firmly established as the leading player in the rental industry, while still holding to the same principles and philosophies that put it on the path to success. Perhaps the greatest display of Network’s success is the fact that in 1993 there were over 38 rental groups in the industry; in 2013 there are just four and Network is now the largest rental group. Added to that, Network is the only group in the world run by a woman and the most successful non-franchise rental group worldwide with over 250 stores as members.
The Network Group’s success over the years has seen Network collecting its fair share of awards, including three national marketing awards, for our Exclusive to TV, Videology and Cans4Films campaigns, and Network stores have won too many to count industry awards, including awards in every state and territory and the best rental store in the nation.
Under Keran’s leadership, The Network Group has grown beyond just the rental business. Since 1993, Network has expanded into movie retail and business support through such enterprises as Done Dirt Cheap DVD, Network’s online retail outlet; MyVideoStore, an online information portal for all retail and rental stores; and developed a presence in online Video-On-Demand services. Keran’s forward-thinking attitude means that The Network Group is a leader in retail and rental technology, keeping ahead of the curve.
Keran’s unique perspectives, strong work ethic, and ambition have made her a leading entrepreneur in Australia. As the only woman in the world to run a movie rental group, Keran has spoken at international industry conferences, and is a respected member of the Australian business community.
Without the vision and drive she offers, the Australian home entertainment industry would be vastly different to what it is today. Keran dedicates herself to supporting the interests of hundreds of small business owners, fighting to maintain industry standards and equality, and working towards a stronger home entertainment industry. To that end, Keran played a vital role in the successful case brought again Warner Bros in the Australian Federal Court in 2001 that stopped two-tier DVD pricing.
Of course, Keran loves movies with Nine and ½ Weeks, Pulp Fiction and A Beautiful Mind among her favourites. As passionate about life as she is about work, Keran is a soccer fanatic (or a Chelsea fanatic, more accurately) and a car enthusiast. Added to that, Keran’s been kickboxing/boxing for more than a decade and trains several times a week.
Keran lives in Melbourne with her two sons, and her white German Shepherd, Honey.