“There are three kinds of people that use our gadgets,” says Marks. “The press come to us when they’re off to report on war-zones. We’re the only place in London that keeps bullet proof vests and anti-nerve agent in stock at all times. If you need an armoured car at a moment’s notice, we’ve got one.
“Then there are the people that think they’ve been bugged. This can be individuals or businesses. We have a counter-surveillance team that sweeps buildings for listening devices and advises on tighter security.
“And then there’s people with a problem to solve…”
These “personal” cases range from suspicious spouses hoping to catch their partner playing away, to industrial espionage and old-fashioned snooping.
Spymaster provides a range of products to suit these DIY cases, from GSM listening devices to full colour cameras the size of your thumb-nail. The GSM gadgets are particularly nifty. They come in plug sockets, table lamps, smoke detectors – pretty much anything. Each comes with its own mobile number, so you can dial in from anywhere in the world and a microphone silently clicks on so that you can hear everything in the room.
“People have come back and told us that our equipment has saved them untold fortunes,” says Marks. “Sometimes it’s a business partner fiddling the books, or a purchasing director taking kickbacks.”
Sometimes, however, people are worried about nothing. “A woman came in and said she needed to record all the conversations in her house,” recalls Marks. “She was convinced her husband was having an affair. She came back a week later, beaming. He’d been arranging a surprise party for her.”
Spymaster is by far the largest retailer of this kind in Europe, turning over £3m last year. When manufacturers bring out a new spy gadget, Spymaster’s their first port of call. Around 50 per cent of sales come from overseas, but the firm also has a shop on Portman Square in London, a concession in Selfridges and an online catalogue.