A new chapter for Armac Martin

No longer a second thought, handles have become integral components of kitchen design. Arguably one of the drivers of this trend in the high-end kitchen market is Armac Martin. Rebecca Nottingham speaks to joint-CEO Richard McGrail about the brand’s plans for the future.

There aren’t many manufacturing businesses, particularly ones homegrown on British soil, that can not only boast an impressive 95-year heritage but also that they are still going strong. One that can, however, is Birmingham-based Armac Martin.

Richard McGrail, joint CEO, Armac Martin

From humble beginnings as Armac Manufacturing, a brass foundry, the family-owned company has evolved into Armac Martin, a producer of luxury brass hardware and accessories that’s carved out a niche in the luxury KBB and interior design sector. 

Last year, it became a fourth generation led business with the appointment of joint CEOs Richard (pictured) and Rob McGrail.  

“The business was founded back in 1929 by our great grandfather Harold McGrail,” Richard McGrail explains. “Our grandfather then took over the business, but he sadly passed away in 2003 and that’s when our father and uncle, who were already working in the business, took over. They retired last January and that’s when my brother and I took over officially as CEOs.

“We’re really grateful that we have been given an incredible platform to build from and we’re really excited to lead our family business into its next chapter.”

And Richard and Rob – who between them have 34-years’ experience in the business – aren’t the only McGrail family members in the company. Their sister, Melissa, is the head of marketing while cousins Bo and Fred hold roles within the company’s business development and marketing teams.

Armac Martin invests heavily in product development and currently has a portfolio
of 40 collections, in 19 different finishes

Though the business had been successful for 83 years, the real turning point came in 2012 when it began to target the luxury KBB sector. 

“Originally we were a traditional brass foundry working with castings – mainly for the Antique restoration trade,” McGrail explains. “We did, however, supply cabinet hardware to several kitchen retailers and that is really when, in 2012, the Armac Martin brand was born.

“We saw an opportunity to focus on the high-end, luxury kitchen sector and we’ve gone from strength to strength – we’re growing year-on-year and are constantly evolving the product portfolio to help our retailers maximise their designs and sales opportunities.” 

To put that into context, in 2023, turnover was up year-on-year by 6%.

“All things considered, we felt 6% growth in this market was good,” he explains. “We’ve also done comparisons on where the business is now, along with where it was in 2019. That was the most recent ‘normal year’ and we’ve gone up by 79%. So, our business has grown massively sincethe the pre-Covid period.”

It’s important to point out here that this isn’t all UK growth. The company also has a thriving export business. 

Armac Martin handles featured in a kitchen design

“Our sales have doubled between 2019 and 2022 and over half of our sales are to export,” McGrail explains. “North America is our biggest export market. They love the Made in Britain story and heritage. We also do well in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Ireland too. We have customers
in most countries, but actual market penetration is low elsewhere. But we are working on a few new markets in Europe where we see potential.”

Now, luxury or not, 79% growth post-Covid equals a lot of handles. So, what does McGrail think is the secret to the brand’s success? 

“Product development is a big focus for us,” he says. “We put a lot of energy into driving new product development. We have over 40 collections, in 19 different finishes, and that’s always growing. This not only strengthens our position in the market but gives our retailers a stronger sales tool and proposition.”

It’s fair to say that handles are now integral components of design in the KBB sector, and while 12 years ago Armac Martin was carving out a niche, the sector has become more competitive. So, I’m keen to know, what does McGrail feel sets the brand aside from others in the market? 

“We’re very optimistic and see everything as an opportunity,” he says. “What this competition has forced us to do in the last three or four years is to really push ourselves on the design and engineering side. 


“We have invested substantially in technology and automation to improve efficiency and productivity. We extended the factory four years ago so that we can accommodate more machines and people and have capacity for a further 25% increase in productivity.

We want to create excitement in the design industry and, that’s why product development is core for us.

Richard McGrail, joint CEO, Armac Martin

“Our core product offering is hand-finished, solid brass cabinet hardware but we also do shelf brackets and hanging wine glass racks so all kitchen accessories can match. In 2021, we collaborated with interior designer, Sophie Paterson, on a collection of mirrors which allowed us to reach a new market. 

“We’re always looking to expand the portfolio and we’re getting ready to launch into two new categories – electrical sockets and switches as well as bathroom accessories. There are real margin opportunities in our products as well – they are original designs handcrafted in the UK, that’s another USP.” 

It’s not just about product development though. Talking to McGrail, it’s clear that they recognise how independent KBB retailers are integral to the brand’s success and that everything they do, they do with them in mind. 

“Independent retailers are the core of our business,” he says firmly. “Our product works best when it’s featured on kitchen displays in high-end retail showrooms, so we work closely with our retailers so that we understand what they need from us. We appreciate that every retailer is different, and we try to support them as best we can, be that through discounts, POS or discounts on display products.

“We want to make our retailers lives as easy as possible and have worked hard to build the profile of the brand so that consumers go into showrooms and ask for our products.”


A big part of the work they’ve done to raise the profile of Armac Martin to consumers is the development and launch of its new brand identity. 

“We’ve invested a lot of money to grow and elevate the brand in the kitchen and design sector,” he explains. “Part of that was the introduction of a redefined identity in order to elevate the brand even further. An important aspect of this project was around defining our brand architecture by putting products into different categories – Signature, Speciality and Luxe – which are essentially good, better, best options. This again feeds into the narrative of us supporting our retailers.

It’s not just about the breadth of design, it’s giving retailers the ability to appeal to different budgets so that they can maximise opportunities.

Richard McGrail, joint CEO, Armac Martin

“For independents this is a really powerful message. It’s not just about offering them the breadth of design, it’s giving them the ability to appeal to consumers on varying budgets so that they can maximise sales and margin opportunities.”

With so much success and some big plans already in the pipeline it’s difficult to see where else the brand can go, but McGrail and the team are passionate and ambitious, and they clearly aren’t stopping there.

“We want to be at the forefront of design,” he says. “We want to create excitement in the design industry and, that’s why product development is really core for us. The aim is to continue to expand the business over the next 10 years. We think there is a lot of growth potential through our UK independent retail network, exports and diversifying into new product categories.”

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