Since the start of the company, Marshall has been on the side of the working musician. Providing the young player with the best product at a low cost. However, this would change when Marshall entered a disastrous deal with distributor Rose-Morris.
By the mid 60s Marshall had achieved fame with many of the most famous bands using them. Marshall had dominated the domestic market and there was a demand from the international market as audiences from other countries were exposed to the brand through the British band’s touring.
Rose-Morris, a renowned international distributor would be the one to help Marshall grow. In 1966, Jim Marshall signed a 15 year deal with Rose-Morris, which although did help Marshall grow, would also turn out to be the worst mistake in the companies history.
Rose-Morris were making an enormous profit from the mark up of Marshall products (up to 55% for products distributed internationally, when the industry standard was around 12%).
The mark up by Rose-Morris meant that Marshall products were very expensive by the time they reached the retailer. From here on, Marshall would only be affordable by the rich. We could argue that this gave Marshall a desirable image since the young players who could not afford the brand saw their heroes (the professionals) using it, ingraining a higher sense of quality and transforming the brand into an aspirational one
Unfortunately this whole incident meant Marshall weren’t making enough profit. For the next 15 years Jim Marshall decided that in order for Marshall to survive he would have to expand into different markets; such as starting his own wholesale business distributing other musical equipment, and even two department stores called MBC based in London.
(When the Rose-Morris deal ended, Jim Marshall sold the leases to his department stores as he didn’t need them anymore. He alleges that he made more money from the leases than all the profit from his amplifiers during the deal).
The Rose-Morris deal meant Marshall became an international brand, but at a high cost.
For those interested in Jim Marshall and the company he created, I highly recommend you buy:
Maloof, R. (2004) “Jim Marshall: The Father Of Loud”, San Francisco: Backbeat Books.