COVID-19 Business Case Study 
Based in Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, SMART is one of the UK’s leading space solutions companies which manufactures and installs quality outdoor buildings. 

Published in Norfolk and Suffolk Director Magazines, Summer/Autumn 2020

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Manufacturing and Installation

Founded in 2006, the company was the subject of a successful management buyout in early 2019 and is now led by a senior leadership team headed up by Managing Director Matt Moss, Sales and Marketing Director Sue Phillips, and Operations Director Paul Sheppard

During that time SMART has invested considerable sums in its staff, including enhancing the vital customer service function and in developing its pre-existing and already very popular designs, the Ultra, Belle, Classic, Key Studio, Suffolk Barn and Temple Folly. 


It consolidated its market-leading position in February this year by launching its seventh design – the Affinity. All these models come with a multitude of optional extras and upgrades to suit individual tastes and the particular features of any prospective location. 

And then the COVID-19 lockdown happened. 

Ensuring everyone’s safety

For SMART, Matt Moss recalled, the immediate issue was to ensure the safety of customers and staff. “This meant ceasing production of new buildings at our factory and halting the installation of orders already received. I’m pleased to say all of our customers understood the reasons for this. 

“We also took advantage of the Government’s very helpful furloughing scheme, in order to buy ourselves planning and thinking time, to adapt the business to a world of social distancing. The three months of lockdown weren’t easy, but we really have put them to good use. We believe we are now in an even better shape to transform the lives of our customers”. 

Once the initial shock of the lockdown was over, Matt and the SMART team quickly realised that the almost overnight shift in many businesses, from predominately face-to-face to a remote culture, wasn’t a threat, but a game-changing opportunity for the company’s long-term prospects. 

“All the old reasons for people not being allowed or able to work from home were suddenly null and void. Video conferencing became the norm. Working from home became the everyday reality for hundreds of thousands of businesses, of all sizes. The reductions in time and travel costs were noticeable overnight.” 

Planning for future expansion

So, SMART used the period not as a time to hunker down, but to invest and plan for future expansion. This included:

• Installing a new external showroom to complement their internal showroom at its Thurston headquarters. 

• Investing in new 3D software which will allow prospective purchasers to design their garden room and place it virtually into their garden via augmented reality. 

• Introducing a new CSR initiative, where for every Key Studio garden room sold, SMART will donate £100 to NHS Charities Together to support key workers. 

Looking to collaborate

Now the company is back up and running to full capacity, Matt is looking ahead. “For us, the next stage is about working in partnership with a major business, ideally based in Suffolk or Norfolk, to assist in delivering their new work from-home strategy. If any company fits this description, we’d love to work with them to facilitate the delivery of their ‘new’ normal in the post-COVID-19 future.” 


Matt Moss is the Managing Director of SMART Garden Rooms, Offices & Studios. For more information visit: Garden Offices

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