The Barker family has been involved in dry cleaning for three generations. Ken Barker started up in the 1940s and it’s fair to say that without him, the industry would be very different today. Ken started work for an acquaintance in the business called Walter Knight. Over the years Ken and Walter built up the 'Collins Cleaners' business until in 1947 Ken decided to buy the company outright. He continued to grow the business and by 1958 Collins Cleaners had over forty shops and three factories. In 1959 Ken became president of the National Federation of Dyers and Cleaners.
In 1960 Ken sold the business and became Deputy Chairman of Quality Cleaners of Worcester. He was responsible for the merger of this company with Sketchley’s making it the biggest dry cleaning company in the country. At that time more than half Sketchley’s branches had been set up by Ken Barker.
Ken's son Anthony followed in his father’s footsteps and, with three friends, opened Harlequin Cleaners and later Commodore Cleaners. In 1972 Anthony took on three shops: Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, founding Anthony A. Barker Ltd. Anthony and his wife Valerie decided the future of the business lay in the provision of high quality domestic laundry services, both to the public and dry cleaners themselves.
The business thrived and Anthony’s son, Matthew entered the business. Matthew’s initial reluctance to join the business soon vanished and due to his tenacity, vision and hard work over the past fifteen years, the Barker Laundry has gone from strength to strength. In 2000 Matthew bought the company from his father, re-branding to become Barker Group. Today, it’s a company providing a consistently high quality service with an unrivalled reputation for excellence. As for Matthew Barker, he is still dedicated to building and improving on the skills and traditions passed down through the family. His vision is to make Barker’s a byword in quality laundry throughout the world.