Dorset is home to an array of businesses, of all sectors and sizes, successfully trading across the globe. We spoke to the Mar-Key Group, who has rapidly scaled-up its businesses working internationally. As recent finalists in the Scale-up Award category of the 2023 Dorset Business Awards, they’ve shared their story…
In 1991, David Tabb founded Mar-Key Marquees in Dorset after turning his hand from sail making to marquee manufacturing. Designing his product from scratch, he began to build his own rental fleet which served local events. Their ability to manufacture enabled them to respond quickly, subsequently winning contracts with film producers, the military and large retail clients. Significant growth led to a rebrand in 2007 to Mar-Key Group, and the business continued to invest in their stock and machinery.
Through the next 10 years, enquiries continued to build and significant contracts were won including the first international project with the build of a VIP Hospitality Pavilion and Race Team Boat Shed for Ben Ainslie Racing at The America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017. T The overseas delivery of this project turned heads in the industry and positioned the business alongside competitors many times their size.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and c£6m worth of events contracts were cancelled, the work done to establish themselves as a commercial building supplier is what ultimately saved the business. They secured contracts to supply temporary Tesco stores at the Nightingale hospitals, drive-thru testing centres, hospital extensions and PPE storage facilities.
When event clients returned, Mar-Key Group found that by 2022 they were double the size of the business that they were pre-pandemic. Speaking of this bounce back, CEO Ben Scroggie commented “Nobody could predict the circumstances we’d all face during COVID, but the work we had put in to developing structures and solutions in the years prior ultimately saved our business. The sheer grit, determination and dedication from our team ensured we would still be trading when the world returned to ‘normal’.
International export and overseas project delivery offers huge growth potential to the business. In the last 12 months, Mar-Key Group secured contracts with the South Australian Motor Sport Board worth in excess of £1,000,000, delivered their first 14 meter high building in Barcelona for Emirates Team New Zealand and won a multi-year event contract in Northern Ireland. They’re also experiencing an influx of international enquiries from Europe, and have been approached to quote an overseas project for a major film studio in the UAE worth in excess of £2.8million.
Increased understanding of the benefits of temporary structures coupled with Mar-Key Group’s unique capabilities as a British manufacturer, has led to a surge in demand for their temporary structures globally.
What we see today in terms of their international presence and contracts secured is merely the tip of a very exciting iceberg offering significant growth potential for this Dorset business.
Photo: Mar-Key Group’s first 14m high building in Barcelona for Emirates Team New Zealand