King of Shaves
|Industry||Shaving and skincare|
|Genre||Shaving, skincare, razors, blades and toiletries|
|Predecessor(s)||Knowledge & Merchandising Inc. Ltd.|
|Founded||1993 (KMI), 2009 (KOS Co)|
|Headquarters||Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England|
|Area served||UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, South Arica|
|Key people||Will King (Founder and CEO), Hiten Dayal, Andy Hill (Innovations Director), Madeleine Stokstad (Finance Director), Karen Heygate-Browne (Operations Controller), Samantha Danzine (Supply Chain Controller), Jane Greenaway (Business Systems), Simon Watson (Head of Drawing & Colouring In).|
|Products||King of Shaves, Azor, Queen Of... , Prostyle eGrooming|
|Production output||Mainly in UK|
The King of Shaves Company, Ltd. is a British toiletries company headquartered in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. The King of Shaves brand was founded in 1993 by Will King. The company was demerged from Knowledge & Merchandising Inc. Ltd. on 1 June 2009. It is owned by The King of Shaves Holding Company Ltd.
Will King, who began King of Shaves, was made redundant in the early 1990s from his job with the marketing agency Fountainhead Communications. In 1992 he created a shaving oil product that eased the pain, rash and burn he experienced during shaving. King approached Harrods, the London department store, and secured the personal agreement of owner Mohamed Al-Fayed to stock the new product. He then hand-filled 9,600 bottles in his kitchen, using a pump supplied to him by a friend in the yacht building industry.
At first Harrods in Knightsbridge sold one bottle of King's Shaving Oil every two weeks, and the company's first year sales (1993-1994) were £300. Will King incorporated KMI (Knowledge & Merchandising Inc. Ltd.) on 13 April 1993. Until 1 June 2009, it was this company which owned the King of Shaves brand, along with other "premium mass" toiletries brands. Running the company from his home in Chalfont St. Giles, Will King was joined by Herbie Dayal, a founding shareholder, as full-time Chairman in 1995, as well as Andy Hill, their first employee, now Managing Director.
In 2009, The King of Shaves Company Ltd. was demerged from KMI, and the company appointed Atul Sharma as CFO and Chris Outram as Non-Executive Chairman of both The King of Shaves Company Ltd. and KMI (now KMI Brands Ltd).
The company won awards including the CBI/Real Business "Growing Business" Company of the Year, the T-Mobile/Growing Business Magazine "Overall fast growth company of the year" and King was a winner in the London & South East Region finals of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Since 2009, King of Shaves has used a business model similar to that used by Coca Cola, with a central office controlling research and development, whilst production and point of sale is localised to a specific market. The success of this model has varied. Though in 2009 the company's merchandise was stocked in at least 7 separate countries, from 2007 the turnover went from £13.9 million, to £25 million in 2008, to £10 million by 2012.
On 22 June 2009, the company announced a "Shaving Bond" issue of up to five thousand £1,000 non-transferable and non-convertible bonds, which was reported in the press and described by Will King as being an "innovative way to potentially raise money from up to 5,000 brand enthusiasts". The issue was overseen by FSA regulated accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward with legal advice provided by Memery Crystal LLP.
In August 2011 the company moved launched the King of Style electrical grooming range at Argos in the UK. Powered by Remington technology, all the trimmers and groomers featured a glossy white and matt-black colour scheme and new packaging.
In October 2011 The King of Shaves Company signed a multi-year agreement with Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc, owner of Remington branded electrical grooming products, to exclusively distribute King of Shaves products in the USA and Canada. The distribution agreement was dissolved in 2012 after 'breaches of contract' from King of Shaves.
In July 2013 the company launched the Prostyle Bodystyler, the first of four electrical eGrooming products for styling facial and body hair and the first public picture featuring Will King appearing to shave with the company's next generation of system razor, Hyperglide was published in BA Business Life Magazine July 1, 2013.
Individual King of Shaves brands have included KOS.PRO, K2, XCD, and KU as well as King of Shaves Woman (now superseded by a range called Queen Of). According to IRI (52 weeks to 17 April 2010), the brand is the third largest selling shaving preparations brand by value in the UK (excluding own label) behind Gillette and Nivea.
Before King of Shaves de-merged from KMI, it licensed and promoted other brands in the male and female grooming markets including Ted Baker fine fragrances and premium toiletries and Fish and AngelFish styling products, it also purchased Floraroma Ltd. from Joanne Sinclair (see below).
King of Shaves took a 24% stake in Wingman Products Ltd in May 2011
King of Shaves took a 15% stake in Concoction Ltd in October 2012.
Razors and blades
The company launched its first razor, the Azor, under the King of Shaves brand, in June 2008. Described as a "hybrid synergy" system razor, designed to combine the best of system razors and disposable razors. It features an internationally patented "Bendology Technology" elastomer "living" or "active" hinge to push the cartridge against the skin for a closer, more comfortable shave. The system's skin pre-tensioner (or "beard bumper") is integrated into the handle, and thus is not thrown away unnecessarily with the cartridge, and the handle comes with three "Endurium" coated four bladed replacement cartridges.
The company took the decision to launch a razor with fewer blades than Gillette's Fusion, which has five blades, as it believes there was no proven shaving benefit with any more than four blades.
The company launched the 4-blade Azor in Japan with further launches in the US (August 2009), Brazil (July 2009), South Africa (October 2009) and Australia / New Zealand (May 2010).
In response to market-place pressures King of Shaves launched a 5-blade razor (called the Azor 5) in the UK in early 2011. The cartridges again featured blades manufactured by Kai Industries in Japan (a shareholder in King of Shaves) however the handle was updated with alloy metal replacing some of the plastics and the hinge was made 'softer' which King of Shaves says made it 'ideal for sensitive skin'. A Remington co-branded version launched in the USA in September 2011, initially at Walgreens stores and on Amazon.com to mixed reviews.
Mergers and acquisitions
In March 2008 KMI acquired the issued share capital of Floraroma Ltd., which owns women's toiletries brands including Phil Smith, Delicious Beauty, Dead Sea Source, Little Me, Derma-Mum and Floracologie. In October 2009, KMI acquired the Naked skincare brand.
Financial investment offer
In 2009 the company offered savings bonds with 6%pa interest rate to consumers. These savings bonds rely on the company's growth in order to fund the returns. This scheme was not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and at the time of application consumers were unable to get reports on how well the company was performing.
In 2012 a fresh batch of bonds were released, though the ability to redeem them has been withheld for a number of years, with no change to their status with regulators.
King of Shaves has sponsored athletes throughout Great Britain. During 2006 they sponsored two British Winter Olympic athletes, Kristan Bromley and Shelley Rudman, as well as John Terry and P1 Offshore Powerboat. In later years, they sponsored both Chrissy Palmer for MRF Formula Ford races, but also Jordan King, son of Lord Sainsbury, during his F3 races.
- Rock, Matthew (April 29, 2013). "How positive start-up innovation is making full-time work redundant". City A.M. p. 20.
- Bentley, Diana. "On track for top entrepreneurs prize". The Times (London).
- Bridge, Rachel (December 9, 2012). "For CEOs, it can be good to talk; THINK TANK". The Sunday Telegraph (London). p. 8.
- Booth, Jenny (23 June 2009). "Business big shot Will King King of Shaves". The Times (London).
- Bridge, Sarah (June 2, 2013). "King of Shaves reaches fresh US deal". Mail on Sunday (London).
- Quinn, James (13 August 2011). "King of Shaves cuts Japan deal". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- JAMES CONEY (1 July 2009). "WARNING OVER RISKY 'SHAVING BOND'". DAILY MAIL. Retrieved 13 April 2010. "But despite being advertised as a savings bond, this scheme actually invests in the King of Shaves company; specifically for the company's marketing. It is NOT a savings account. Essentially, the Shaving Bond is a corporate bond -- but one issued for a non-listed company. Whether you get a return depends on the health of this firm. Your money is locked away for three years. Every six months the company says it will pay you 3pc 'interest' -- which you will have to declare to the taxman."
- Patrick Hosking (27 June 2009). "Sweeney Todd would blush". The Times. Retrieved 13 April 2010. "In the offer literature, there are risk warnings but no information on the history of the company, no profit and loss account, no balance sheet, and no details on how the bonds would rank in the event of a winding-up. The company has no track record, having only recently been demerged from a larger business. According to Mr King, it hasn't even yet been decided how much bank finance should be apportioned to the new business. Alas, no rational investor could possibly invest in the bonds on the basis of such sparse data. The upside may be a chunky 6 per cent income (for comparison, mainstream bank three-year bonds now yield about 4 per cent), but the downside is that investors are locked in for three years. They could also lose every neck-stinging penny if King of Shaves were to fail."
- Dunn, Sam (August 29, 2012). "Why Gambling on Higher Rates May Put Your Savings at Risk". Daily Mail (London).
- Ashton, Neil (September 28, 2012). "Captain, Leader, Legend...Outcast?". Daily Mail.
- Brown, Oliver (March 1, 2013). "King of the road has right formula; Motor Racing Interview Jordan King reveals to Oliver Brown how being son of Sainsbury's chief is helping his Fl ambitions". The Daily Telegraph (London). p. 16.
- Scott, Matt (September 25, 2012). "Umbro drop defender's deal". The Daily Telegraph. p. 2.
- "Hannah comes home for exciting event; Sailing". South Wales Echo. August 22, 2012. p. 3.