King of Shaves to take on Gillette with new Azor 5 razor
Men's grooming products firm King of Shaves is set to take on the might of Gillette with the launch of a new razor next week.
The firm, founded in Lowestoft by entrepreneur Will King in 1993, will begin sales of its Azor 5 razor in Asda from January 25 – the same day industry leader Gillette launches its Fusion ProGlide in the UK after success in the US.
Both firms' razors boast five blades, thinner than those on previous razors in an attempt to reduce friction and improve comfort.
And while Gillette – the world's leading shaving brand owned by US consumer products firm Proctor & Gamble – is expected to spend millions marketing the Fusion ProGlide in the UK, King of Shaves will be focusing on low-cost campaigns on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
But the UK firm hopes its lower price will put it at an advantage, priced at �6.99 for a pack of six blades compared to �14.69 for six Fusion ProGlide blades on Amazon.co.uk.
After its launch in Asda, the Azor 5 will go on sale in Waitrose by the end of the month, with further roll-outs in Tesco and Boots by March 1.
Will King, chief executive of King of Shaves, said the company would be rolling out sales in the US under a distribution deal with personal care brand Remington, agreed last November.
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The company is also planning to begin sales in mainland Europe in Europe in the next 12 to 18 months, with other markets to follow, Mr King said.
'The outlook is bright,' he added.
'It will be very interesting to see what happens with our sales when we are competing fully in the US market.
'The onus is on us to make a success of Azor 5 here against the US competition, and then we need to take it to the US to make it a success there.'
Originally set up as a shaving oils business with an investment of �15,000, the company now sells about 500,000 Azor handles per year in the UK, which the firm says makes it the third biggest selling.
Sales reached �13m in the 17 months to May 2010.
The company directly employs 20 at its base in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, with 150 to 200 employed indirectly at factories which manufacture its products.
Mr King added: 'The Azor 5 is our product launch for 2011 and we are planning more for 2012.
'The past year has been fantastic strategically. We have attracted good investment to the company and trade is up, so we are in growth.'