The past couple of years have been unlike anything the pro audio market has ever experienced, but for the UK’s Martin Audio, it’s been an even stranger period than it has been for most. Here, the company’s marketing director, James King, tells Headliner about the company’s acquisition by Focusrite just weeks before the word Covid entered the public consciousness and how the company is rolling back the years to enjoy pre-pandemic levels of success…
2020 was a seismic year for Martin Audio, not simply due to the pandemic, but also the acquisition of the company by Focusrite just a few weeks earlier. What was it like to experience such a tumultuous spell?
When the deal was done, we were extremely excited. We saw it as a long-term scenario and something that would bring stability, investment and increased access to componentry, so there was a lot of excitement. And that was reciprocated - there was a sense of everything being in sync. Then, weeks later, the lights went out on live events. But Focusrite were unequivocal in their support. If we had been under any other arrangement in the company’s history it would have been a dire moment, but Focusrite gave us all possible support. They believed in us, and we came up with a plan on how we would contain costs etc.
And it was relatively simple in our approach, but it had long-term positive implications for us as a business. For instance, if the government said we could keep the factory open safely we would. And there was a level of demand around the world, so we could still produce and ship product. We were able to reduce costs and generate enough revenue to keep our heads above water. The fact we kept the factory open gave us a bit of a head of steam as things started to turn around, so people knew we could deliver, and it gave us a head start over some of the supply chain issues that are affecting the globe.
We were able to return to revenues close to 2019 in a shorter space of time than we thought - it took about 12 months to return to those levels, and since then things have accelerated at an incredible rate. We’re about 50% up on this time last year and about 30% up on pre-covid times. Things are looking very positive.
With the issues caused by the pandemic, are we yet to see the full implications of Brexit on the touring market?
Yes, it’s only as we emerge from one crisis that we now see another minefield to navigate. The realities of a post-Brexit world have started to become more prevalent as other events move aside. The industry has proved itself to be quite robust, so if you can get through that, you have to think as a company that there are very few challenges that should phase you. If you’ve made it through to this point you should give yourself a pat on the back and be full of confidence to move ahead.