Sapphire was founded in 1961 by the late Barrie Peachman, ably supported by his wife Jean, who remains a Director. The business title came from the stone in Jean’s engagement ring.
Barrie was working as a railway signalman initially and started work part-time repossessing vehicles for finance companies. This lead to other areas of work and the eventual “jump” into running Sapphire full-time. It was a gamble!
The first office was a glorified shed in the garden of their then home in Long Stratton. Initially the business did not even possess a telephone, utilising a nearby telephone box! This was long before mobile telephones and communications which we now accept as the norm.
Money was scarce in those early days and times were hard. A powerful desire to succeed drove the founder on as he worked long and unsocial hours.
Incorporation & Expansion
The company was incorporated in 1963 and went from strength to strength. Larger premises were required, so the business moved to the site of a former stonemason’s in Ipswich Road, Long Stratton in 1966. The original offices there were razed to the ground in 1976 and new ones constructed on the site.
The Swinging 60s!
The Country was in a post-war boom period. Confidence in the economy was high, as was hire purchase borrowing. People were stretching finances to the limit to acquire new cars and modern conveniences.
Sapphire thrived on work from finance companies; checking out new borrowers; tracing absconders and repossessing goods. Later a change in the Consumer Law wiped out much of the vehicle repossession work.
The Divorce Boom!
The same decade saw an increase in divorces. Sapphire’s services were in demand by the legal profession and private clients; all seeking to prove adultery.
The company operatives were busy maintaining surveillance upon errant spouses; taking confession statements and giving evidence in Courts all over the Country.
This source of work effectively dried up in the early 70s due to the Divorce Reform Act 1971. “Irretrievable breakdown” was introduced, reducing the necessity for evidence of adultery. Some private investigators went out of business as a result.
Diversify & Survive
The foresight of Sapphire’s founder ensured that (against the odds) the company not only survived but continued to thrive through the following decades and inevitable recessions. This was partly achieved by anticipating new trends; diversifying into new areas and increasing the client base.
Sapphire moved into debt collection, Rent & Rates recovery, security consultancy and accident investigation, as well as other areas.
Success could also be attributed to a philosophy of ultimate service; a determination to “do it better than anyone else and always compete on an improved service basis”. Such philosophy remains to this day.
A New Era
In April 1984 the company was rocked by the tragic and untimely death of Barrie Peachman. Seeing the company in its modern guise it is difficult to imagine the devastation this event caused, but at that time Barrie Peachman (in the eyes of many people) was Sapphire Investigations Bureau Limited.
A strong, determined and often unconventional character, Barrie Peachman had been the main driving force behind the company’s success, earning the widespread respect of his peers and clients in the process.
During his career as a professional investigator, he had served as Principal of the Institute of Professional investigators; President of The Association of British Investigators and President of the Certificated Bailiffs’ Association, as well as serving on the Board of The Council of International Investigators.
His were difficult shoes to fill.
Generations of Peachmans
The remaining members of the Peachman family, particularly Jean, Mark and Paul (sons of the founder), have gone on to prove that Sapphire was (and is) more than one man. Under their control the company has developed into more of a team unit. Sapphire has recently become a 3rd generation family business, with Paul’s son joining its ranks.
Maintaining the traditional high standards of service, they have ensured the company’s continued survival and evolution in a rapidly changing World which epitomises “survival of the fittest”.
Today Sapphire is widely respected as one of the Country’s longest-established investigation agencies, specialising in litigation support and due diligence. Despite passing its half century, the company has not rested on its laurels.
Mark and Paul Peachman are now Qualified Paralegals (Fellows of the Institute of Paralegals) in recognition of their extensive experience (over 60 combined years) in litigation support and enforcement.
The company moved to new modern and ultra-secure premises on the Industrial Estate in Long Stratton, on 1 April 2016.
It is anticipated that in the next few years UK investigators and/or investigation businesses will have to be licensed. We at Sapphire look forward to offering our clients a possible enhanced service as licensed professional investigators, sometime in the near future.
On to the next chapter....................