LONDON — Startup shaving brand Harry’s is launching in the UK, the company’s first international market outside of North America.
New York-based Harry’s, founded in 2013, manufactures razor blades and shaving handles, as well as making shaving cream and after shave balm. The company has three million customers in the US and Canada and has sold overfive5 million of its blade handles. Sales grew by 100% last year.
Cofounder Andy Katz-Mayfield told Business Insider: “When we started it was based on a personal experience I had, going to a drugstore in the US and I just had a really frustrating experience. I’d run out of razor blades and they were locked up in a case and I was walking around trying to find people and wound up paying $US25 for four razor blades and some shaving cream and appreciating the absurdity of the whole thing.
“I really felt like I was being taken advantage of as a consumer and felt trapped because there was really no alternative.”
Harry’s razors are made in a German factory (which the company bought for $US100 million in 2014) but the UK is the first market outside of North America for the business.
Katz-Mayfield said: “For us, we look at the market in the UK and consumer choices, we think that UK guys will appreciate an alternative as well and today they don’t really have an alternative to the big incumbents. A lot of the same things that we saw in the US we think are true for the UK too.”
Harry’s has a team of 10 people based in Britain. Katz-Mayfield said Harry’s has no imminent plans to launch in other European markets.
Harry’s is one of a number of upstart shaving brands that have shaken up the American razor market in recent years, which has long been dominated by Gillette. Dollar Shave Club, which was founded in 2011 and offers cheap razor subscriptions, was acquired by Unilever for $US1 billion (£781.4 million) last July, underlining the sweeping changes going on in the market.
Katz-Mayfield cofounded Harry’s with Jeff Raider, who helped set up successful online eyewear brand Warby Parker in 2010. Harry’s has raised over $US280 million (£219 million) in venture capital funding since launch and was reportedly valued at $US750 million (£586 million) in its last funding round back in 2015.
US magazine Fast Company described Harry’s in 2015 as a company “providing razors to those who enjoy a certain refined, Brooklyn aesthetic,” and an early retail partner for the company was J Crew, the iconic American preppy retailer.
However, Katz-Mayfield says Harry’s is not just a hipster’s Gillette. He told BI: “It’s not like our brand is just appealing to some fashion-minded folks in New York or something like that. It really has pretty broad-based appeal from a geographic standpoint, from a socioeconomic standpoint. I think we would hope and expect to see the same thing in the UK, where we’re appealing to lots and lots of guys.”
He added: “The way we think about our value proposition and our brand is first and foremost, really high-quality product. The second is great value. The third thing, is just a different approach to brand and design. It’s actually a product people are proud to use — a more modern brand that appeals to a more modern guy.”
Harry’s will initially be only sold online in the UK but Katz-Mayfield says the company is open to partnerships with retailers here. Shaving kits cost £14 or £24, while a refill of eight blades costs £15. Customers can also subscribe for regular deliveries of blades and shave gel at a cheaper rate.