Signs are good for Barnsley business

27 September 2011

A family-run Barnsley firm says signs are good for the future with orders up by a fifth and plans to move to bigger premises.
Brian Totty Signs, which makes all types of signage, promotional print and vehicle livery, found that for almost a year from January 2010 - as the recession took hold - orders fell and it did not receive a single inquiry about frontage for new retail units.  
However, over the last few months, turnover is up 20 per cent compared with the same period last year and director Debbie Brown reports staff are again handling calls about new retail enterprises.  
“The beginning of 2010 was extremely difficult because of snow and ice, few premises opening in the town and a subdued house building industry which we do a lot of work for.   However we battled through it without having to lay anyone off and, since the start of 2011, business has really picked up again,” she said. 
In addition to serving local businesses, the company has undertaken jobs for many public sector organisations like the NHS and universities, and has supplied and fitted signage for a range of commercial clients across the country such as major high street banks and cafes. It has also made signs for offices in India and Singapore. 
Debbie said: “While the company has invested in the very latest techniques and harnesses digital and other technologies, we’ve always held dear the original values of the business which are a personal, friendly service.
“Some of the larger firms we deal with have very specific requirements but sole traders or small businesses often need a lot of guidance and so we try to build design into the price while keeping it affordable.”  
The company has a 14-strong team including designers, fabricators, print finishers and installation experts. Its high-tech cutting machine enables staff to cut materials such as plastics, foam and aluminium sheets to specific shapes. 
When Brian Totty first trained as a sign writer in the 1960s the industry was a far cry from what it is today with all his work done by hand.
Miner’s son Brian founded the company in 1978 with a £500 gift from an ex-miner left disabled after an injury and, along with wife Gloria, built up a team of staff at a factory unit in Carlton.
The business moved to its current site at Crookes Street in the late 1980s and the couple’s daughter Debbie and son Jason joined as directors. Jason’s son, 17-year-old son James, an apprentice, is the third generation of the family to be involved although Gloria sadly died in 2002. 
Totty Signs has received help with the development of its website and IT training through the Enterprising Barnsley programme. Its experts are also helping the company to find suitable new premises as it’s felt that the current base has been outgrown.
Enterprising Barnsley offers business support to Barnsley businesses with growth potential and has helped create over 500 jobs. It has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
 “We’ve had fantastic support through Enterprising Barnsley and recommend that other companies see what help is on offer.” added Debbie. 
For more information, email, call 01226 201015, or visit
For more information about Enterprising Barnsley go to or contact Martin Beasley on 01226 772648 or at
Notes to News Editors:
For further information contact Debbie Brown as above. 
The Enterprising Barnsley programme is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency (BDA), Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC) and the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus (UCB).   For further information about Enterprising Barnsley, contact Martin as above.
Additional media contacts: Deborah Wain on 07903 466228 or at  or Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07910 165 444 or at

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