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SIS PITCHES: UK sports surfaces supplier moves into premier league

Based in Maryport, Cumbria, the independent business designs and constructs synthetic, hybrid and natural pitches. From big ticket tournaments to club and training grounds, it’s a portfolio that includes football, rugby, cricket, hockey, golf, tennis and multi-use games areas. For last year’s World Cup in Russia the company supplied six stadia  including the final in Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium and then a contract for venues used in the Club World Cup staged in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December and the Asian Cup held there earlier this month.

Sport’s global expansion and the double digit increase in the use of lower cost artificial pitches have been the background driver to the firm’s rise up a leader board dominated by multinationals. 

But its operational model and build innovations are what underpin its move into the premier league of producers, says founder and chief executive George Mullan.

“We’re different because we offer a full service, end-to-end solution, controlling the whole process from design and manufacture of synthetic turf in our own factories, right through to installation and maintenance. Customers in the public eye know it’s just us they deal with – that’s very important for trust and efficiency.”

Turnaround specialist Mullan acquired the business in 2001, then expanded Maryport as its HQ and built an international company with an office network stretching from Ireland, the Netherlands and Russia to Turkey, the Middle East and Angola. 

SISGrass is its flagship hybrid system deployed for high profile projects.

Combining 95 percent natural grass stitched with synthetic fibres, the technology delivered by the firm’s pinpoint accurate machines reinforce surfaces, taking half the time of competitors.

The resulting products last longer and provide more consistency for players.

For pitch rebuilds in the Middle East all the grass came from the business’s own purpose-built turf farm there.

“We’re a small company, it’s through innovation that we can compete on the biggest stages,” says Mullan who funds from profits and has just overseen a £1.8 million investment in new equipment at Maryport. 

This is now paving the way for the launch of new synthetic pitch systems, with the latest infill, yarn, polyurethane and shockpads.

Introducing technology not available elsewhere in the UK the new coatings production line can deliver backings in both latex (more common in UK) and polyurethane (for overseas) for the products, increasing their strength and durability. 

Rolling out the green carpet in North America – a new key target market – has also begun with supply to National Football League team Green Bay Packers and a pitch in Toronto next month.  

“Russia and the UAE have given us fantastic exposure but much of our business is not in the high-profile tournament sector but with colleges, clubs and schools,” points out Mullan who is also making inroads into the landscaping sector with BuzzGrass, its website selling artificial grass to emerging consumer and commercial markets.

Increasingly popular among those with window sills, balconies and small plots, it also appeals to less able gardeners and schools looking for backdrops for events.

But with over 424 staff worldwide, Mullan is in no doubt people are SIS Pitches’ best asset.

“It all stems from choosing the right teams,” he says, “then leaving them to get on with their jobs”.

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