“For too long, the US wet-shaving market has been a cosy duopoly,” says King, who founded King of Shaves in 1993. “P&G’s Gillette has enjoyed supreme market dominance, with an 80 per cent market share, while its ‘competition’, Schick, has a ten per cent market share.
“I knew the States would be a big nut to crack. We’ve been selling products out there for more than ten years and we’ve built strong brand foundations but dealing with the huge US retailers has been a challenge. They were shy of listing us, with buyers questioning our ability to support a proper multi-million dollar market launch.”
For the King of Shaves brand to make a dent Stateside, King knew he’d have to work with a large American partner. “Few British companies, let alone brands, succeed in mainland USA. They think they can go into the States and make it big, all by themselves – and they end up getting blown up by the competition.”
Under the new multi-year agreement with Spectrum, King of Shaves will launch a new system razor, co-branded with Remington, into the US and Canadian markets next spring. Spectrum currently has distribution in major mass and drug store retailers across the US. It pulls in more than £1bn in sales from Walmart alone.
King says the deal took a year to clinch: “You have to give rock-solid proof you can deliver, from EPOS growth and retail sales, to repeat purchases and patent protection.” He believes the Spectrum partnership will completely transform his £26m-turnover business: “With this deal, we’ll hit £60m by 2012, just watch.”