Marshall Amps was taken over earlier this year by Swedish speaker company Zound, becoming ‘the Marshall Group’ in the process. Now new CEO Jeremy De Maillard has hinted at plans to expand the iconic guitar amp builder’s UK manufacturing operations.
De Maillard has been CEO at Zound since 2020 and has a history of majorly expanding the revenues of iconic brands in the fashion/sports worlds, including Vans, Adidas and North Face.
Marshall, meanwhile, has brought few new amp products to market in recent years, with the majority of new Marshall-branded goods being the home audio gear produced under license by its former-partner-turned-owner, Zound.
On Wednesday (November 1), UK paper The Times published a new conversation with De Maillard [paywalled]. In the piece, the CEO claims that not only have jobs been retained at the firm’s Bletchley, UK base, but more roles may be created – suggesting more UK-made tube amps could be on the way.
“A lot of times, these acquisitions [involve] cost-cutting,” says De Maillard. “Here, it’s completely complementary, there’s almost no overlap and, where there is, it’s something we need to grow.
“Manufacturing is the heartbeat of the company. When you walk through [Bletchley], you see people who have been here for 35 years. The craftsmanship is so nice and so powerful. We need to do more here, to enhance the legacy.”
In this sense, we suspect Marshall has one eye on the ‘heritage brand’ playbook used so effectively by Gibson, following its own takeover in 2018.
Since then Gibson has doubled down on faithfully reproducing its classic USA models – upping production standards in its US facilities, raiding the archives for lost models and, in the words of Gibson’s Head of Brand Experience, Mark Agnesi, offering “great Les Pauls and SGs and 335s made the way that they were made… that is the core of our business.”
Marshall seems well-positioned to tow a similar line with its UK-made amps – ie, simplified product lines offering faithful recreations of its best-loved models.
Doing so would help the newly formed Marshall Group to capitalize on one of the amp world’s best-known, but most underserved brands.
At this stage, the prospect of UK-made amps is little more than a hint, but when it comes to expanding the brand, De Maillard is definitive about his ambitions: promising to massively increase Marshall’s market share from its present annual sales of around $360 million.
“We are in a $100 billion industry,” says De Maillard. “We have less than one percent and we are Marshall. We can fairly quickly become a $3 billion company and that will only be three percent.
“We are one of the very few global iconic brands that is widely known and attached to a certain aspect of culture. It sounds ambitious, but with the brand that we have, I have no concern about us becoming a multibillion-dollar company.”
We’re excited to see what that might look like for Marshall. The firm’s first product since the takeover landed in July, in the form of the Studio JTM – a down-sized take on “the amp that started it all”, the JTM45.
That was likely already well along the production line by the time the takeover was announced. Let’s hope De Maillard’s ambitions yield something positive – and guitar-focused – for all of us players.