Barber discovers fringe benefits of generous angels

A FORMER internet entrepreneur is turning his hand to hairdressing after securing a “significant six-figure sum” from business angels to launch a chain of barbers’ shops and his own range of “male grooming” products.

Andrew Cannon was operations director at London-based discount fashion retailer, selling brands including Diesel, Fire Trap, Gucci, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent.

Now he has landed investment from business angels in London, Newcastle and Rotterdam to set up the Ruffians chain, which has chosen Edinburgh to open its first store.

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Cannon is running the rule over sites for two further stores in Edinburgh and is plotting expansion into Glasgow too.

Over the next five years, he plans to open around 12 stores in the UK, as well as expanding his range of 11 products, which include conditioners, hair gels and shampoos.

Oban-born Cannon, 29, said that having a European business angel on his board would also help when it came to looking at overseas expansion. “We have registered Ruffians as a trademark in 35 countries because we have a lot of confidence in this brand and believe it can become very popular with men.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on our British roots, sourcing all of our products from the UK and working with our suppliers to make sure our range is formulated for men’s skin, which can differ a lot from women’s skin.”

Cannon said the first Ruffians store was already proving popular with actors, businessmen and sportsmen.

He added: “Barbers shops are one thing that will always be on the high street. You can’t get your hair cut on the internet.

“I think one of the problems that a lot of businesses on the high street have faced is not paying attention to what their customers want. That’s one mistake we won’t make with Ruffians.”

Cannon said he had chosen to go down the route of looking for business angels’ backing rather than face the struggle of securing a loan from the high street banks.

Through his experience at Koodos, he had been exposed to the world of corporate finance and saw angel funding as a natural choice.

Koodos was sold in 2009 to E-Trader Group, the venture capital-backed firm launched by Harold Tillman, the veteran fashion entrepreneur who until recently owned fashion labels Aquascutum and Jaeger. The website was later bought by online peer Net A Porter.