Massive tattoo brand has more than 20 studios globally, including in Italy, where more than 139,000 COVID-19 cases and 17,000 deaths have been recorded.
Massive tattoo brand has more than 20 studios globally, including in Italy, where more than 139,000 COVID-19 cases and 17,000 deaths have been recorded.

Tattoo giant crippled by the coronavirus

GOLD Coast-based tattoo brand Celebrity Ink has been forced to stand down dozens of workers in the city and hundreds worldwide after being shut down by the coronavirus crisis.

The franchise led by CEO Mitch Costello has more than 20 studios globally, including in Italy, where more than 139,000 cases and 17,000 deaths have been recorded.

Mr Costello said all studios have now closed and in Australia the business has been exploring how the Federal Government's JobKeeper package can help workers.

Staff at Celebrity Ink Surfers Paradise in face masks before the studio was forced to shut its doors during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Jerad Williams
Staff at Celebrity Ink Surfers Paradise in face masks before the studio was forced to shut its doors during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Jerad Williams

"The Gold Coast is our home. More than 60 per cent of our Australian market is on the Coast, so closing the doors across the region has been a devastating blow to the business," he said.

"Prior to the announcement of the employer stimulus package, we did make the decision to retain only our head office staff to keep the business lean at this time. We have communicated to our 90 Australian staff (55 on the Gold Coast) any financial support they should be seeking at this time until the business can return to normal, and are now obviously looking at how we can utilise the new JobKeeper package to support our employees.

"Globally, we've been forced to stand down 400 team members. I can tell you, closing doors on the business is one thing, closing doors on our staff is an entirely different beast and we've all taken it pretty hard."

Celebrity Ink was initially battling through the crisis in Australia and doing quite well.

Celebrity Ink CEO Mitch Costello is optimistic the business will pull through, but studios have been closed for now. Picture: Jerad Williams
Celebrity Ink CEO Mitch Costello is optimistic the business will pull through, but studios have been closed for now. Picture: Jerad Williams

"Since the new laws came into effect, however, we're definitely feeling it. But so is every other gym, cinema, beauty salon, nightclub, play centre and the thousands of other businesses around the country, so we know we're not alone in this," Mr Costello said.

He said it was difficult to adapt in the circumstances, given the nature of tattooing, and the impacts of the coronavirus "hit every studio in every region".

"We're not in a business where we can just pivot like some businesses and tattoo people through a computer screen. So business is looking very different for us right now," he said.

However, he was optimistic Celebrity Ink would survive the crisis.

"We're confident we can see this through. We're currently just focusing on what we can do right now for the broader community and what we can do to ensure our staff and customers continue to feel connected," Mr Costello said.

Gold Coast tobacco tycoon Travers ‘Candyman’ Beynon at Celebrity Ink Coomera during a promo in 2019. Picture: Mike Batterham
Gold Coast tobacco tycoon Travers ‘Candyman’ Beynon at Celebrity Ink Coomera during a promo in 2019. Picture: Mike Batterham

"We've just launched a Tattoo of the Year competition for Celebrity Ink artists around the world to submit their favourite work to date, so that's got everyone pretty excited."

Celebrity Ink is now scouring supplies for face masks and hand sanitiser to distribute for free.

"We know this is essential stock to have when we return one day, but right now, we know members of the community need it more than we do," he said.

On the Coast, Celebrity Ink has studios at Surfers Paradise (its HQ), Coomera and Southport.

Originally published as Coast tattoo giant crippled by the coronavirus


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