Hethersett grooming brand looks for its cut of overseas markets
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Led by a comic book character and aiming to tap into the growing popularity of men's grooming a cosmetic brand is hoping to take its range over the pond.
Founded by Freddy Furber, the Percy Nobleman brand is meant to conjure up a nostalgic vision of well-groomed vintage gentlemen.
The Hethersett-based business, which has a turnover of around £1.2m, started out with online sales and quickly found its way to the shelves of major retailers across the continent.
Mr Furber launched the firm F&M Cosmetics, from his father's house, after identifying what he saw as a niche in the market.
The move into cosmetics was a made after meticulous research with Mr Furber seeking a sector which was not dominated by multinationals and had room to grow. He said: 'In some sectors there is a glass ceiling where you can hit a point where you have reached everyone you can and I wanted a niche where there wasn't a ceiling or it was very high.'
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A trend towards beard and so-called hipster culture as well as a throwback to vintage looks has seen the brand grow quickly, nearly quadrupling in turnover from its first to second year, from £250,000 to nearly £1m.
He said: 'There has been a change in attitudes towards facial hair in the workplace and that is a cycle in history.
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'Guys want grooming regimes that are quick, that look good fast which has led to beards being popular.'
To give the brand a story and to make it stand out on the shelf of stores such as Boots Mr Furber decided to turn to his love of comic books to create a character. He said: 'I wanted to create this character, I didn't want my name on a product.
'Percy is this guy you want to be, he's a gentleman, charming, good looking but very unassuming.'
He added: 'It looks like the kind of thing people have seen on their grandfather's shelves when they were a child.'
As well as being sold in Boots, Percy Nobleman products can now be found in European cosmetics store Douglas and Matas drug stores in Denmark.
Now Mr Furber has set his sights on America and is hoping his products' English charm will serve it well there. He said: 'America is a natural fit for us. It is a key time to work with experts to build our network so we can reach that glass ceiling and smash through it.'
He added overseas markets accounted for about 40% of the business and online sales had seen them sell across the globe from Scandinavia to the Middle East.