Tattoo supplier inks £16m investor sale

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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The ink has dried on a deal to sell a business founded more than a century ago by Britain’s first celebrity tattooist.

Barber of Sheffield - Europe’s leading supplier of inks, needles and hygiene products to the tattoo industry - has been snapped up by private equity investor RJD Partners in a deal understood to be about £16million.

Barber traces its roots to the 1900s when George Burchett-Davis opened a shop in the Isle of Dogs. Also know as the ‘Professor’, he carved out an illustrious career tattooing the aristocratic elite and European royalty, including King Alfonso VIII of Spain and King Frederick IX of Denmark. He is also thought to have tattooed King George V.

His firm - Davis Tattoo Supplies (DTS) - was later passed on to his sons, before being bought in 2006 by Barber of Sheffield, a medical supply business which moved into the tattoo industry.

Spearheaded by Tony and Stephanie Crane, Barber of Sheffield later won investment backing from PHD Equity Partners and Enterprise Ventures in March 2012.

The firms have now sold to RJD Partners, with Mr Crane staying on as a director.

Wayne Thomas, investment director at Enterprise Ventures, said: “Barber has a proven track record to buy and build, and enter new territories.

The current management team are now keen to lead the next stage of the company’s growth and RJD makes an ideal partner to support their ambitions.”

Barber, based on Shortwood Business Park in Barnsley, employs 45 and supplies products to 30,000 accounts across 67 countries under the Barber DTS name.

It also supplies equipment to the medical and veterinary market, with around 70 per cent of its sales coming online.

In the past three years profits have doubled.