Despite the obvious difficulties still facing most organisations and individuals, this year has been very good for MARL.  The impact of the pandemic on our brilliant team and our stakeholders has been minimal.  Most importantly we have not, to date, suffered anyone seriously ill from the Covid virus and to my knowledge more than 95% of the team have been fully vaccinated.  We are also fortunate to be located in Cumbria, which has a significantly lower population density when compared to cities and I believe that supports the view that there should be a different approach to restrictions and guidelines for rural communities.  For example, we do not need to rely on public transport and  have plenty of space to social distance and it was relatively easy to establish rules to keep everyone as safe as possible at MARL Business Park, whilst allowing the business to function without impinging on efficiency.  (The site is about 6 acres with 150k square feet of operating space).

Working from home is just not a practical option for our type of manufacturing activities, but we have adapted and optimised wherever possible.  I do not believe that home working will work for many manufacturers in the SME sector and do fear that the overall productivity levels in the UK will have been damaged enormously and this can already be seen in many areas of the public sector with huge backlogs and delays.

In terms of our major projects for defence, rail and medical markets, we have continued to make good progress and have been able to meet, or exceed the vast majority of our customer needs and expectations.


We are also trying to make the most of the opportunities in the new emerging world, one example being a reduction in our working week to four slightly longer days from Monday to Thursday.  We still retain Fridays for any urgent, or additional support that a customer may require, or for maintenance issues and system upgrades and fogging to sterilise surfaces and equipment.  The Team love the new arrangement.

Many of you who have known MARL for some time may recall that I have been open about sharing the stress and pressure that we were under during the period from 2016 to 2019 when we were transforming the business.  Designing, testing and manufacturing more than 100 new products, some with very high degrees of complexity and certification was extremely demanding and consumed nearly all our limited resources for years.  However, in 2021 we have been able to refocus and one of the many successful initiatives completed has been a refresh of the website.  We believe our website offers a good insight into our business, how we approach things, the breadth and depth of our capability and capacity and hopefully gives a flavour for how our team embrace change and stay true to our core values of quality, flexibility, agility and integrity.

Since 2008 we have invested over £6m in infrastructure, equipment, capability and strengthening MARL.  Today, both the company and the team are in good shape and ready for the challenges and opportunities in 2022.


One of our key themes is partnerships and we will be continuing to work with our trusted and valued partners in the New Year.  That includes some key customers in defence, rail and medical, (BAE Systems, EAO and MeiraGTx for example).  But in addition we are reorganising our global distribution network and appointing some of our closest partners as master distributors in the three key regions, UK, Europe and North America.   (Our friends at Anglia are already up and running and we will be doing our best to support them).  We believe that will offer considerable benefits to our customers, especially by combining ex-stock deliveries and short lead times without compromising on product quality, or adversely affecting value of money.

We think that the key constraint and therefore risk for the lighting and electronics systems industry next year will be component and material supply and we are working very hard to mitigate supply chain risk by liaising with our long-standing suppliers to help them help us as much as possible.  We believe our strategy is robust and will keep us ahead of many in the industry.  We estimate supply issues are likely to be an ongoing issue until Q2 of 2023.  However, private companies are very resilient and resourceful, and we know that our suppliers the world over will be doing their upmost to support all of us in the professional electronics industry.   

In the coming year we will be more visible in our chosen niche markets, with a more active presence at trade shows, starting with Southern Manufacturing, (8th-10th February 2022 at the Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre).  We are also keen to talk and meet with customers old and new, (both virtually and face-to-face when appropriate), who would like to take advantage of the design and manufacturing service and support that MARL enjoy providing to organisations, large and small, in the UK and overseas who appreciate us.

May I wish you all a safe, happy and enjoyable Christmas with your family and friends and will look forward to working with you in the New Year.


Adrian Rawlinson
Managing Director
MARL Business Park
16th December 2021

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