King of Shaves. Our Shaving Bond & Our Reputation.

I’m writing this whilst attending the NACDS ‘Marketplace’ convention in Boston USA, where we’re introducing the Azor to US buyers from major drugstores. The show’s pretty quiet, but we’ve had plenty of appointments, and we’ve had a great reception to it. Sales in the UK are very strong – this week will probably be our biggest sales week ever – helped, no doubt, by the huge publicity surrounding our Shaving Bond issue.

I wanted to restate again why we decided to issue this innovative savings bond to the general public, and explain in greater depth my rationale, as a couple of recent articles in what I’ll call the ‘serious’ investment sector have questioned us actually doing it, indeed cited it as more risky (than in my opinion) it is. A typical article – this one is on the Investors Chronicle website – can be read here.

Firstly, King of Shaves has been established over sixteen years. Earlier this year, my board and I took the decision to demerge the company from its parent – KMI – along with taking on an inward investment of c£4m. This was done solely so my management team and I could focus on growing the brand, nationally and internationally and allowed my business partner, Herbie, to do exactly the same with KMI Brands – a company that owns or licenses a portfolio of successful brands.

The success of a brand like King of Shaves is entirely reputation based. Every day, over a million men shave with our products – shaving gels, serums & oils – and of course with our razor. If our products don’t perform, and deliver a great shave, then simply put, people won’t buy them again. However, the overall demand for King of Shaves, reflected in our market share data published by IRI Infoscan, is substantially up. Within 12 months, we’ve garnered approximately 10% system razor handle market share, and built on our 12% market share of shaving preparations.

Men, and women, enjoy using our products – they buy tens of thousands of them each week, and our brand has grown every year, over the past sixteen years.

So, why did I issue the ‘Shaving Bond’? For two reasons:

Firstly, to “involve” fans – evangelists – enthusiasts – of King of Shaves in a way that could help us (spend more money on marketing) and help them (save money over the duration of the bond). Almost everyone I spoke to about the idea prior to the launch loved it, and in many cases, it has been reported very positively.

Secondly, because it simply seemed like a good idea – the sort of thing a consumer facing, challenger brand would do, to continue its growth in a different, exciting & engaging way. It would get the brand publicity – mostly positive – some, of course, negative – and bring us to a wider awareness. The cost of actually issuing the shaving bond, including legal fees & press advertisements has been a substantial six figure sum – an amount the company is more than capable of investing, alongside our more ‘conventional’ press & poster ads featuring the ‘Better because it Bends’ strapline.

Most emails I’ve received – I would say 99% – have been positive. People seem to be excited about the issue, they want to be part of our success story, and feel they can play a part.

I have made it clear that I’m not after someone’s ‘life savings’ – I am no financial shyster – no Bernard Madoff or Allen Stanford. It’s no Ponzi scheme. No ficticious ‘Certificates of Deposit’ drawn on a bank in the Caribbean with unbelievable rates of return.

This is about involving people in a way that maybe is as much about fun, as raising funds. My ideal would be for between 500 to 5,000 adults, each investing £1,000 apiece, and who understand the risks associated with the Bond issue, as explicitly pointed out on our website. 6% seemed about the ‘right’ interest level to pay, and with us issuing free product over the bond’s duration, the real money saved will of course be more than this. The bond has been professionally laid out by BDO in association with our lawyers, Memery Crystal, and we have followed to the letter guidelines that need to be adhered to regarding this sort of savings/investment opportunity.

Indeed, until you tick the boxes to signify you have read and understood the bond issue, you can’t apply. I’m sure some people – massive fans of King of Shaves – will apply without reading the t’s and c’s, but of course I recommend that everyone who applies reads them, and understands there is a risk associated with the issue.

I can’t predict what the future holds – but I can confidently assert that men’s beards will continue to grow, if they don’t want to grow a beard, they need to shave, and choosing King of Shaves products delivers a great shave.

Whether we raise £500,000 or £5m – I don’t mind. We may not even raise £500,000 – the minimum amount. Who knows! It’s not been done before, in this way. But, what I do care about passionately, and have done so since the ‘get-go’ with King of Shaves, is people having trust in our brand’s reputation – whether that’s in the shaving, or saving, sector and realise that this is a serious way to make some money, whilst helping my team and I continue to build a British brand, largely manufactured in the UK, and sold world-wide.

If you’ve read this blog post, please do read all the press articles associated with our Shaving Bond. The good, and the bad. And then, make your own mind up whether it’s for you. It’s your decision.