The Times, King of Shaves, Shaving Bonds & Sweeney Tod (sic). My polite response.

Following the positive article by The Times on our Shaving Bond issue on Tuesday, Patrick Hosking has followed up with a somewhat more sceptical article that looks at our initiative in a little more depth. You can read it by clicking here.

I gave an extensive, open interview with Patrick today, and also put him in touch with a partner at BDO (who approved our Shaving Bond issue). In my eyes, the article reads unnecessarily negatively, with him questioning our business, the data we have made available and other concerns (although to give credit where credit’s due, he says it’s worth buying our razors!).

In issuing the Shaving Bond, we took months working out the details of the issue – what it will mean for our (already successful) company, how we will use the funds (marketing leading to brand awareness & continuing sales growth), and why it was far more important to have 5,000 ‘investor-saver-partners’ than one.

The fact that bonds have historically been used by ‘blue chip’ (ie ‘solid’) companies means little – GM was ‘blue chip’ until recently, and many companies, banks, lenders, institutions have had their financial strength downgraded, or been ‘bailed out’ by us, the taxpayer. On this subject, Patrick writes: “Bonds are traditionally the preserve of big beasts — blue-chip companies or governments that have the track record and resources to gain an impressive credit rating, and big institutional investors that can afford the usually huge minimum investment levels. The foray into this world by a tiddler like King of Shaves is unheard of”.

Well, the fact it is ‘unheard of’ to me means ‘maybe more people should hear about the opportunity’. Last year, it would have been ‘unheard of’ that a ‘tiddler’ like us would garner 10% system razor handle market share against US$57Bn Gillette. We may be small compared with companies Patrick is more used to speaking with, but we’re still a profitable multi-million pound turnover FMCG business. And, as I make it clear in the ads, in my blog postings and in all the interviews, on radio, TV and press, we’re not after risking someone’s life savings – £1,000 is the minimum amount we chose, and there is a £5,000 maximum that can be invested. I would prefer 5,000 people x £1,000 rather than 1,000 people x £5,000.

The fact we’ve had thousands of visits to the Shaving Bond offer website is testimony to the interest people have in making a return on their somewhat underwhelming investment options, and why not back a brand that is growing strongly, in the UK, and internationally – a British business daring to succeed in the face of global adversity?

Simply put, up to 5,000 adults aged over 18, who ideally use King of Shaves, spread all over the UK, to help us spread brand awareness and word of mouth, are the people I’d like to back our Bond. Not the sophisticated “City Investment’ types. Not the “professional investors”. Regular people, doing regular jobs, who are looking to do things a little bit differently, a little bit better, with – perhaps – a little LESS risk.

After all, 1,000,000 men aren’t stopping shaving overnight with King of Shaves.

Sweeney Todd was the ‘Demon Barber of Fleet Street’. Well, let me assure you King of Shaves is no cut-throat barber going about business in the backstreets. Our business partners are Boots, Sainsbury & Tesco, our bankers are HSBC, our shareholders are my close friends and family, and as I pointed out in the interview: “The only thing that’s certain in the future – is – uncertainty, and the fact men’s beards will grow overnight”

I stand by the integrity of our Shaving Bond in the same way I stand by the integrity of our award winning razor, the Azor and the fact we’re over 16 years old and maturing nicely.

Maybe I shoud have called our issue King of Bonds 😉 But I’m not so arrogant as to consider that, King of Shaves ‘Shaving Bond No. 1′ is just fine.