Accession Announcement. Andy Hill appointed CEO of The King of Shaves Company, Will King becomes Founder, looks to “Next..?’

Dear King of Shaves Fans and Friends,

Twenty-one years ago I launched a new brand in one of the most competitive retail environments on earth – the cut throat world of shaving.

From persuading Harrods to stock our first shaving oil back in 1993, to the launch of the game-changing Hyperglide razor in 2014, King of Shaves has flown the flag for British manufacturing excellence, innovation and enterprise across the world, shaving a good few billion faces along the way!

Our products, Kings 'King of Shaves' Shaving Oil c1994and company, have won numerous awards; our sales in the UK make us a top three selling brand, and the King of Shaves logo can be seen in shops from America to Australia, and Turkey to Japan. This is some achievement in what is a highly aggressive £17bn global marketplace where giants like P&G’s Gillette and Energizer Holdings’ Schick Wilkinson Sword still hold 90% of the share.

We’ve also constantly challenged traditional ideas and broken the mould.  From embracing the internet in 1995 with the purchase of shave.com for US$35 to debuting our pioneering 2009 ‘Shaving Bond’ (which paved the way for what is now a multi-billion pound retail ‘mini-bond’ marketplace) let alone spawning countless imitations along the way to launching our online shaving ‘subscription’ service in 2012, we’ve changed forever how customers shave and save, smarter and better.

I’m proud that we’ve also helped Shelley Rudman to Winter Olympics medal success, and fostered a new generation of sporting talent with our Young Blades scheme, one of whom was another Olympic medal winner, Lowestoft born boxer, Anthony Ogogo.

Hyperglide razor uses superhydrophilic 'just add water' technology

Hyperglide razor uses superhydrophilic ‘just add water’ technology

And then there are our razors. Our innovative Azor, launched in 2008, was the first British made razor for one hundred years. Building on this we wanted to revolutionise the shaving market with something completely new, and in January this year the Hyperglide was born which uses patented ‘superhydrophilic’ technology (rather than 1970s Lubrastrips).  It took our talented design and engineering team 5 years to bring this product to market, and it has proved a great hit as it allows, for the first time ever, to be able to shave without the need for shaving gels or oils, by ‘just adding water’.

Building the King of Shaves brand has been my life for the past 21 years. I’ll be 50 next year and I have many ambitions and aspirations, and I will tell you about these at another time… So with my Board’s agreement, and with immediate effect, I am standing down as CEO, remaining Founder, Board Director and the largest shareholder.

I am delighted to announce that one of my most trusted lieutenants, Andy Hill – who’s been with me since 1995 – has been appointed CEO and to our Holding Company Board.  I can think of no one better to take King of Shaves business and brand forward – continuing with the mission of “shaving people smarter”. Like me, Andy studied Mechanical Engineering, and led the Hyperglide development team. Between 2004-9 he was Managing Director of KMI, the company I founded in 1993 and is exceptionally well placed to build on the brands’ 21 year old foundations and reputation.

William Blair & Company, the global investment banking and asset management firm, continues to evaluate investment and growth options for King of Shaves following inbound interest earlier in the year. These are exciting times..!

With Simon Biagi, Presenter

With Simon Biagi, Presenter

I will of course continue to fly the flag for King of Shaves, working with the KoS team on their plans for the future while keeping our larger competitors on their toes. In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked at business talks I’ve given, what would happen if Will King “left” King of Shaves.  At both, I’ve given the same answer – “it’ll go from strength to strength!”  Since day one, I’ve built a great team around me who run the business day to day, and have done for many years.  And secondly, if you have a great team, the ‘Leader’ should know when it’s the right time to hand over the ‘reigns’ (sorry!).

Thank you all for your support over the past two decades. My team and I couldn’t have done it without you all, customers, investors, shaving bond holders, suppliers and – of course – beards!

Will King
Founder

Just Add Ice, Water, Shave & Give! Will King Does The #IceBucketChallenge

Will King’s #IceBucketChallenge

The Rise of the Millennial Males (And What It Means For Shaving).

A ‘Millennial’ according to Wikipedia is a person who was born between 1984-2000.  That’s someone who’ll be between 30 and 14 as I write this.  So what?

Our hyperformance hybrid shaving prep + moisturiser.

Our hyperformance hybrid shaving prep + moisturiser.

Well, this is firstly, a generation that has grown up (especially if they were born in the early 90′s) with A) the Internet and B) Mobile phones.  And this is important for brands.  Before the WWW brands pretty much used mainly TV and of course press, to ‘Brand Broadcast’ their products to consumers, and these consumers would go down to the shops and buy them, and either stick with them, or not.  This all changed in 2006, with firstly the introduction of Facebook (sharing personal content at scale) and then in 2007 with Twitter (sharing ‘what you were doing right NOW’ at scale).  Now, of course, we have Snapchat (sharing privately what you are doing at scale) and… well, who knows whats’ next.

We now live in a world of ‘Digital Dialogue’ where opinions are instantly expressed, often ‘knee-jerk’ (Rate or Slate) and these opinions may or may not be listened to when it comes to purchase of products.

This interests me a lot.  In April 1993, when I founded King of Shaves and started shaving with a shaving oil, I was 28.  I didn’t like shaving, I got a shaving rash, you could only buy Gillette or Wilkinson (or, at a push – Bic) and shave with a steel can of shaving foam or gel.  So much for selection and shaving satisfaction.

So, I’ve grown up with King of Shaves, next Monday I turn 49, and am no longer the super cool dude I thought I once was (well, maybe I’m kinda alright).

Hyperglide razor uses superhydrophilic 'just add water' technology

Hyperglide razor uses superhydrophilic ‘just add water’ technology

In 1999, my son Cameron was born, he turns 15 later this year, and is already shaving (yep, amazed me – for sure).  He uses a Hyperglide, and keeps his skin clean and free of pimples with some of our products.  This made me think.  “Wow, so all the men who started King of Shaves in volume, from 1996-7 onwards (when our sales hit £1m pa) will hopefully have stuck with us over all these years, and THEIR sons will see King of Shaves in the bathroom, ask Dad what he shaves with, and maybe engage with us.

I’ve no idea how many thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of young people will start to shave ‘in the digital age’ where they actually have a choice.  You know what, they won’t be like me – when I had the choice of – um – Gillette.  Nope, they’ve got a myriad of choices now, and I’ll be intrigued to see what happens to our sales, and our user demograph over the coming decade.

After a two year slow down in sales (men shaving less frequently, rise of beards, cost of razor cartridges et al) sales seem to be picking up…  OK, the recession has ended. OK people may have more money in their pockets.  If they’re going for a job, they may want to make a ‘clean cut’ first impression, and shave.  I do know that along with sales of shaving preps and razors/blades, sales of men’s deos are down and the only sector that’s in growth is men’s skincare.

But, what will be the impact of the rise of the Millennial shaver?  WIll he (and of course she) get behind brands that were launched just before or during their lifetime.  Or perhaps stick with ‘The Best Grandad Could Get’.

It’ll be intriguing to watch, that’s for sure.

2 into 1 Does Go! Introducing Shave + Shield. Our first shaving prep + leave on facial moisturiser!

Those of you who follow my blog posts, tweets et al, will know that one of my favourite sayings is “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.  Making things ‘simple’ allows easy  use of them, whether mobile phones (iOS7 for example is a great example of a SITUS UI/UX) or razors (our superhydrophilic Hyperglide razor, launched earlier this year allows you to shave with just water).

Our hyperformance hybrid shaving prep + moisturiser.

Our hyperformance hybrid shaving prep + moisturiser.

Right now, in men’s grooming, always cited as being in growth, actually isn’t.  Parts of it are – men’s skincare for example (up due to major promotions between Nivea, L’Oreal and Dove) but in other sectors – men’s bodyspray/deodorants, shaving preps (our key market) and razors (actually down 6% year on year – not something Gillette are happy about) – sales are DOWN.

In fact, you could argue that if sales promotions (the 50% offers that are so prevalent today) were stopped, the market volumes & values would dive.

In 1993, when King of Shaves launched, the men’s ‘grooming’ market simply didn’t exist, other than razors, shower-gels, body-sprays and shaving foams, gels.  Now, it’s highly evolved, with lots of players, large and small all selling their own product range, either at big retail (rare) or more likely, on-line or in niche, boutique stockists.

So, what to do, to bring ‘NEW’ to the market that isn’t ‘NEW for NEW’s SAKE’.

Well, make 2 go into 1 (if possible) and simplify the regime (without compromise).

This thinking led to the introduction of our latest product, Shave+Shield.  Most, if not all shaving preps (not including our shaving oils) are soap, or surfactant based – this is what makes them ‘foam’ or ‘low foam’.  However, if you didn’t wash them off, they would dry your skin really aggressively, and leave it dry and parched.  The foam/low foam is great to see where you’ve shaved/are shaving, but it doesn’t help one bit when it comes to skin moisturisation throughout the day.

Shave+Shield is a hybrid shaving preparation + moisturiser, that after you’ve shaved with it, you rub it in, or add a little more from the tube, and apply.  It has a clever formulation that not only delivers essential razor glide, shave comfort (and yes, it makes Hyperglide even Hyperglidier!) but it also protects the skin, post shave.

You might argue “but, you sell your great Super Shield Moisturiser with UVA/UVB filters – won’t people not buy that?” My response would be that probably 99% of that product is sold to people, possibly using other shaving products, whether razors, gels, creams or foams and right now, to the current user of our AlphaGel.  So, we believe S+S will deliver incremental sales, from people who are willing to look at adopting ‘the new’.

With the supermarket shelves being so dominated by (and cluttered by) big brands, with multiple sku’s these days, it’s important to have a clear point of difference and reason to be there.  Shave+Shield retails at £4.99, so if you buy a shave prep and a moisturiser (many of which are priced at £8-16) you can not only shave better and protect your skin and shave money (sic).

King of Shaves has always been about “Skincare in Shaving” or #Skingcare as I’d punningly put it.  Shave+Shield is our latest, and I’m now testing our next product.  More details on that, later in the year, early next!

Best

Will

Razor Wars | Esquire, September 2014 Issue | Hyperglide featured.

Esquire UK September 2014 Issue

Esquire UK September 2014 Issue

I’d forgotten I’d given an interview to a journalist about razors, shaving – quite an in-depth interview as it happened, which has just come out in the latest (September) issue of Esquire.

It’s well worth a read, if you’d like to learn more about this pretty unique consumer goods segment, and how the respective players are innovating (or not).

Out now!