Body art company acquired in £16m buyout

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A supplier of body art products has changed hands in a secondary buyout for a price thought to be in the region of £16m.

Barber of Sheffield has been sold by PHD Equity Partners and Enterprise Ventures to RJD Partners.

The deal which represents a significant return on investment for the vendors equating to an internal rate of return (IRR) of 44.5 per cent.

PHD Equity Partners and Enterprise Ventures backed the owners Tony and Stephanie Crane in a ‘cash-out scale-up’ investment in March 2012.

Barber supplies a range of inks, needles, equipment, aftercare and hygiene products to over 30,000 individual accounts across 67 countries worldwide under the Barber DTS trade name. The firm, which employs around 45 people in Barnsley, also provides specialist equipment and products to the medical and veterinary markets.

Barber was set up by husband and wife Tony and Stephanie Crane in 1990 as a medical supplies business but soon moved into the growing body art market.

In 2006 it acquired Davis Tattoo Supplies (DTS), a business founded in 1900 by George ‘Professor’ Burchett, regarded as the UK’s first celebrity tattoo artist and whose clients included George V, King Alfonso VIII of Spain and King Frederick IX of Denmark.

Following the investment by PHD Equity Partners and Enterprise Ventures, Barber has been scaled up in partnership with the Cranes and transformed from a UK catalogue store to an export-focused e-commerce business.

The company now operates sites in ten European languages and generates around 70 per cent of its revenue online. Andy Dodd, of PHD Equity Partners, said the management had developed a strategy to more than double revenue by 2019. “Barber has long set the standards within the tattoo industry and built a reputation as a responsible ethical supplier. With a strong management team and the right infrastructure in place, it is well placed to continue its expansion into Europe” he said.

Wayne Thomas, from Enterprise Ventures, said: “With a large number of small suppliers and few big players, the growing body art market offers major opportunities for consolidation.”