European deal for tattoo firm

Andy Dodd of PHD, Tony Crane, managing director of Barber, Paul Betts and Wayne Thomas of EV, and James Dow of PHD
Andy Dodd of PHD, Tony Crane, managing director of Barber, Paul Betts and Wayne Thomas of EV, and James Dow of PHD
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Tattooists’ supplier Barber of Sheffield is planning to make its mark on Europe after buying a French firm that serves around 1,500 tattoo parlours throughout France and Belgium.

The Chapeltown company is looking for companies in Italy, Germany and Holland after acquiring Northstar Tattoo Supply, based in Montpellier, in the South of France, securing an agent in Spain and launching a dedicated Spanish website.

Barber’s expansion follows its success in securing a multi-million pound investment from venture capitalist Enterprise Ventures and PHD Equity Partners in May.

Founder Tony Crane established Barber in 1991 to sell stainless steel needles and blades to vets, however body art products now account for the bulk of its turnover.

“We have been planning for some time to move into Europe,” said Mr Crane.

“This first acquisition gives us access to the French market which is a similar size to the UK. Northstar is established and well respected in France - what we can bring to the table is the breadth of our product range.

“We are keen to expand further and are on the look-out for other suitable companies in Italy, Germany and Holland in particular.”

According to one survey, a fifth of all British adults have a permanent tattoo and that rises to three out of ten for men and women aged 16 to 44.

Wayne Thomas, Investment Director with Enterprise Ventures, said: “Barber is a successful home-grown business that has been increasing its turnover every year.

“The investment earlier this year has allowed it to step up a level, by giving it access to funding for acquisitions and allowing it to tap into the expertise of its equity investors.”