Chris Harrop OBE is Director of Sustainability and Marketing at Marshalls, traces the proud history of the business and looks at its future.
In 1890, a man called Solomon Marshall founded a small company in the heart of a Yorkshire town. A small company that was built on strong principles. A company whose founding members believed in contributing to the community in which they lived and worked. A company that worked hard to provide superior and innovative products to its customers, never compromising on quality or safety.
These same founding principles still ring true today, 130 years later, even now we’re a plc, with a 2,800 strong workforce and a decade as a Superbrand under our belts. Our values are still our driving force, and ‘the right things, for the right reasons, in the right way’ is a mantra played out daily in our offices and sites across the country.
Marshalls is a resilient but proud business
Marshalls has survived two world wars, the latter of which brought our workforce down to 24 due to conscription. But whilst we’ve survived tough times in Britain, we’ve also been there for many moments of pride. As the eyes of the world watched athletic prowess in the London 2012 Olympics, we gazed proudly downwards as our paving, street furniture and kerbs provided the backdrop for many of the new developments and regenerated areas of London. Watch the video case study of our work at the Athlete’s Village below.
Other iconic British moments for Marshalls include paving Trafalgar Square twice in its lifetime. In fact, over the years we’ve paved every location on the London Monopoly Board, another British classic. We have also recently completed a project to pave London Southbank with our natural stone, including Scoutmoor which is on the City of London approved materials list.
We have a continued commitment to British manufacturing
98% of our commercial products are manufactured in the UK and 94% of products overall and the majority of our business is done here too. Of course this gives us the ability to closely manage quality, both in terms of product and the working practices, but it also keeps skilled jobs in Britain and gives Marshalls customers the peace of mind that we’re never far away from their building site, merchants yard or newly renovated home.
We champion British manufacturing by being members of Made in Britain. I became Chair of Made in Britain in 2017 but we have been involved in the network since its inception. Made in Britain is a great platform for manufacturers and a celebration of the diverse range of good and services created here in the UK.
Of Made in Britain, and our role in it, John Pearce, Chief Executive, said,
“Marshalls has made a huge contribution to Made in Britain, and continues to do so. Businesses of all sizes make up the membership of Made in Britain and big companies like Marshalls set a great example by sharing their expertise and resources to help smaller members grow.
Chris Harrop's chairmanship of Made in Britain has brought many qualities to the organisation, inspiring our members to conduct their businesses in an ethical, sustainable and transparent way. Many companies come to us with the idea of using our mark to help them sell more of what they make. With the help of businesses like Marshalls they quickly realise that this is just the start of an exciting, collaborative journey."
Not only does sourcing and manufacturing from within the UK help retain jobs and skills, it also makes a significant contribution to our sustainability goals and reduces our carbon footprint. And our work to tackle modern slavery here in the UK is helping to make the lives of British workers safer and more successful too.
The future for Marshalls as a British manufacturer
As we enter a new era for Britain, Marshalls continues to lead the way as an innovative hard landscaping business. Retaining our stance on British manufacturing will be crucial and as we invest in further digital transformation and innovative ways of working we are upskilling our workforce and influencing change across the industry.
We will also continue to tackle climate change, from science based targets to meet the 1.5°C level through to our work on flood prevention. Our work to tackle Modern Slavery will not wane, and neither will our ethical work with suppliers from outside the UK. We will continue to pay our workers the Living Wage Foundation’s Living Wage as a minimum and be seen as ‘one of the good guys’ in our approach to the Fair Tax Mark. All these things are important for Marshalls both as a responsible business and as a leader in our field.