Rotherham marquee firm Gala Tent goes from tough times to record revenue levels

If you had told the owners of a Rotherham marquee firm that their products would become the subject of panic-buying on the levels of toilet paper in March and April, they would likely have laughed.

Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 3:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 3:55 pm
Gala Tent have supplied marquees for Covid blood-testing stations

Yet, only five months later, Gala Tent posted a second consecutive £1m-plus of revenue in a month, the first time in its 21-year history.

It would seem especially ridiculous because at that time, co-owners Jason Mace and Mark Thompson were working for zero wages to cover furloughed staff in their distribution centre for the few orders that came through their sales channels.

In total, 70% of staff were at home as part of the furlough scheme to protect employment and 30% were working from home under the nationwide lockdown.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

They were unprecedented times but the Gala Tent senior leadership team refused to take it without a fight.

Mark Thompson said: “It was tough, it really was. All of our usual markets had gone into total lockdown and we had a 60,000ft² warehouse packed out with stock for the summer season, so we had to look at where our products could help in the pandemic.”

After switching their marketing strategy to allow them to immediately react to a rapidly-changing social landscape, the firm began to see dividends for the hard work going on behind the scenes.

Staff members were brought back from furlough much earlier than anticipated to keep up with demand.

The firm has supplied marquees to cover outdoor areas at schools

Jason Mace said: “We didn’t stop to worry about roads that were closed for one second. If you’re going to succeed as a company, you need to know that you can change direction at a minute’s notice and carry on regardless.

"The beauty of our products is their versatility. It’s a wedding marquee one year but now it’s a way of pubs expanding their premises to ensure their own revenues don’t drop, or for schools to protect their children in the social distancing era or for retailers to cover their queuing customers.”

Gala Tent posted a 33% growth year-on-year for July, then for August the firm saw an unprecedented 49% growth versus last August and 25% growth for their Q3, in the process posting the most successful period in the company's history.

Jason said: “Our telephone lines have never been busier. Our competitors are showing as out of stock for most of their own products, as there’s genuinely a nationwide shortage on marquees and gazebos.

"However, because we’re the UK’s leading retailer and carry by far the biggest stock inventory, we’re still able to fulfil orders for many of our structures, with thousands of tents in stock and new stock coming in on a weekly basis to fulfil back orders.”

Founded in 1999, Gala Tent has grown to sell more than 15,000 tents and marquees each year, along with around 90,000 event accessories and furniture products in the UK.

In the UK, Gala Tent is a preferred supplier for organisations including the military, NHS, the emergency and police service, St John’s Ambulance as well as to thousands of homeworkers and homeowners nationally.

For more details, contact Gala Tent on 01709 242454 or visit the website at www.galatent.co.uk. Twitter: @galatent

Thank you to all who support local journalism with a digital or print subscription to The Star. The events of 2020 mean trusted, local journalism is more reliant than ever on your support. We couldn't do it without you. Subscribe here www.thestar.co.uk/subscriptions so we can keep campaigning on your behalf. Stay safe.