Ten years ago in 2012, it felt like London, nay the World was "Living it's Best Life" - basking in Halcyon days of a wonderful summer. London was hosting the Olympics the financial crash of 2007-8 was well behind us, it felt like the world was coalescing and co-operating - it's heart beating as one. What a time to be alive.
Just over a decade later, everything we knew, took for granted, expected - has changed. Not only have we had Brexit and Covid, but just this year, a war in Europe, rampant inflation, a world clearly experiencing climate crisis - not change - and countries around the world no longer co-operating, but aggressively looking out for themselves. Global supply chains are in disarray, the cost of living crisis is a clear threat to tens of millions of households, we have energy insecurity and a country currently without a Prime Minister.
Tough, stubbling times indeed. And, likely to get worse before they get better. So, why I am I writing this blogpost now? It's been many months since our last one - indeed, why might anyone care? We simply sell shaving products, a relatively small British brand, intent on 'shaving' as many lives as possible.
These are times of unprecedented change. So, how will we respond to them? How will I as a company founder steer, navigate KoS through these choppy waters to a remain relevant in a world of multinational brands like Gillette, Nivea - whilst remaining true to our core MVP - Mission, Value, Purpose - of being (imo) The World's Best Shave™ (some of my peers hate I use that phrase, but hey - we are the 'King' of shaves, not the 'Knave' of them - so forgive me!)
Those who have followed my brand over the past thirty years know that we embrace change as a constant - in that way never being afraid of change - and the past 3 years have seen us do exactly this. Change for good, better must be the way forward - and our pioneering launch of Code Zero® 'Lifetime use, Refillable' in 2019 certainly was in the vanguard of attempting to reset how consumers use 'single use' products. This led to our refillable (aluminium bottle) shaving gel and refill pouch, using 72-84% less plastic. In autumn of 2021 we held a design competition for a new look for KoS, this is being rolled out now - and until early 2022 we fully expected to roll out our design across our refillables range - this seemed to be 'the' responsible way forward.
But, life happens fast, and with not just the huge impact of the world coming back on-line post Covid with supply of aluminium and raw materials getting ever longer, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the attendant macro-uncertainty, disruption in energy supplies, food supplies - supplies of everything - our costs started to go through the roof. 16 week lead times became 32 then 38 weeks. The cost of aluminium skyrocketed, and the ability of our factories to accurately price our all important 'Cost of Goods Sold' threatened to make King of Shaves core product, a simple shaving gel, expensive beyond belief. The KoS team, led by Andy Hill - who's worked with me since 1995 and his operations and product development team, led by Karen Heygate-Browne and Jane Greenaway quickly realised we needed to Re-Platform KoS back into plastic tubes - not virgin (new) plastic, but Post Consumer Recycled (PCR); this necessitated stability testing, source of new suppliers, and importantly, us being able to keep the all important 'cost/shave' down as low as we could.
Our King of Shaves Shaving Gels (launched as AlphaGels in 1996) have always been affordably priced - in 1996 they were just £3.79 for 150ml or 2.5p/ml. Nearly 30 years later, our new King of Shaves 'OG' shave gels remain highly competitive, with our new larger 175ml fill tubes costing £4.99 - or 2.8p/ml. I hope you agree, with price inflation rocketing, we are still very much about delivering 'The King of Shaves Without The Ransom'. To compare and contrast, Gillette's 'King C Gillette' 150ml tubed shave gel is a whopping £7. And it's still a faint imitation of our OG aloe rich shave gel, a product format we invented in the late 90's!
As well as looking to refresh, revitalise, renew, re-invigorate King of Shaves as a forward facing, responsible and relevant brand for 2023 (yes, there are a lot of Re-Words there - yes, that is very deliberate) - we will also be putting in place exciting plans for our 30th Anniversary Year. I founded King of Shaves on April 12th, 1993 aged just 26; last week I turned 57 - how that happened I do not know - but feel as responsible and rewarded today with my brand as I did then - and have been quietly fermenting lots of plans, ideas, initiatives and more that will be being 'procaimed' later this year!
You can still find our shaving gels and of course, oil in major high street stores - one day I hope to get Tesco back stocking us - they delisted us back in 2019, the only British brand, I'm still not sure why - but my team and I will be doing all in our power to get us back on the shelves of the UK's largest retailer, along with our amazing supportive retailers including Boots, (1994), Sainsbury (1995), Superdrug (1995), Waitrose (1996) and Ocado, along with Amazon and more.
"It's not the size of dog in the fight, it's the size of fight in the dog" I often think to myself; we have been instrumental over the decades at keeping our larger competitors honest - especially when we launched our Azor razor over a decade ago (first time Gillette had ever discounted their razor handles) - and pioneered so many other firsts. I know 2023 will be a 'Pearler' of a year for King of Shaves, but right now - that's a few months away.
So, I'll sign off now - but like The Terminator famously says - "I'LL BE BACK" and promise 2023 will be a 'KING HELL OF A YEAR for King of Shaves. You read it here first.