Several private equity firms are said to be bidding to acquire celebrity-endorsed Tangle Teezer, a British manufacturer of detangling hairbrushes founded and owned by hair colorist Shaun Pulfrey, who reportedly hired global middle-market investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co. to shop the company.
The Daily Mail reported on Sunday that Pulfrey has received takeover offers of up to £200 million.
The move comes a little over a month after British private equity firm Lion Capital was said to have appointed Rothschild to oversee an auction of GHD (Good Hair Day), a supplier of hair products to celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and singer Katy Perry, at a £400 million valuation.
Earlier in June, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JN) agreed to acquire Florida-based hair care products manufacturer Vogue International from private equity firm Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) and Todd Christopher, the shampoo maker’s founder, for $3.3 billion.
Ironically, since his rejection by the BBC’s Dragon’s Den nearly a decade ago, he has built a business which reportedly exports 13 brushes per minute to 60 countries around the world, and has been endorsed by a host of celebrities, including X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger, Cara Delevingne and Victoria Beckham.
Pulfrey developed the idea of a professional detangling brush in 2003, remortgaged his flat in 2005 to pay for the product launch and took the product to BBC’s Dragon’s Den in 2007, after working at hair salons for three decades.
He pitched the concept to Dragons’ Den judges Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne, James Caan and Deborah Meaden, asking for an £80,000 investment in exchange for a 15 per cent stake in his company.
Jones labeled the brushes “hair-brained,” Caan said they were a “waste of time” and Bannatyne said he wanted to “pull [his] hair out.” However, although he left the Den empty-handed, that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream. While the show was aired, 1,500 orders for the Teezer were placed, crashing his website.
By 2009, the brand turned a profit and started to expand globally. In the 12 months leading up to March 2015, Tangle Teezer reported an annual turnover of £23.4 million.
“Since launching in 2007, we have revolutionized the hairbrush market,” says Pulfrey, Tangle Teezer’s sole shareholder. “Described as life-changing, magic, and the must-have brush, we are teasing the world with innovation at the heart of everything we do.”
Born in Grimsby, a fishing port on England’s east coast close to the North Sea, Pulfrey’s success story has taken him to Manchester, London and then America, says the Grimsby Telegraph.
He started out as a hair colorist in 1978. Throughout his career, he worked at Pierre Alexandre, Toni&Guy, Nicky Clarke and Richard Ward salons. In 2002, Pulfrey released I Wanna Be Blonde, a book sharing his insider style tips. He worked for Vidal Sassoon, in Boston, Massachusetts, before returning to the UK, when he began developing the Tangle Teezer concept, while working as a colorist to the stars.
The product has since received broad worldwide press coverage and multiple awards, and Pulfrey has been honored by numerous charities. In 2012 he won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. In May 2015 Tangle Teezer won Best Hair Product award at the Sunday Times Style Awards.
In 2015, Pulfrey was the ambassador for the Business is GREAT Britain campaign, a UKTI government initiative to help support UK entrepreneurs.
From the Original hairbrush, a detangling product for wet and dry hair, the product line has expanded to include a Compact Styler for when you’re on-the-go, a Salon Elite for hair stylists, a Magic Flowerpot for children, the Aqua Splash for around the pool and the Thick & Curly, especially created for thick curly and afro hair. Tangle Teezer also has a range of Blow-Styling tools for styling when drying.
Dragons’ Den is a British television series, hosted by Evan Davis. The format of the show is owned by Sony Pictures and is based on the original Japanese series, which has been sold around the world. The program has been produced by BBC Manchester since its inception and was first broadcast on BBC Two in January 2005.
The show allows several entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their varying business ideas to a panel of five wealthy investors, the “Dragons” of the show’s title, and pitch for financial investment while offering a stake of the company in return.
Shark Tank, the American reality television series produced by Mark Burnett which premiered in August 2009 on ABC, is also a franchise of the international format Dragons’ Den, which originated in Japan in 2001 with the Japanese show Tigers of Money. The show, however, more closely resembles the format of the British version, Dragons’ Den.
Photo: Shaun Pulfrey with his Tangle Teezer brushes.