In an auction in Delaware, USA, last week Energiser bought the bankrupt American Safety Razor Company for just $301 million. You may be wondering how this effects you.
American Safety Razor has a history going back to 1875, over a quarter of a century before Gillette, when the Kampfe brothers produced the Star which was the first safety razor made in the USA. It owns about 30 brands including Magnum, X5, Matrix3, Mystique, Pal, Solara, Burma Shave and Personna and is the fourth largest manufacturer of shaving products in this market. It has been reported that the final straw that forced them into bankruptcy was losing the Walmart contract. Ironically it was won off them by Wilkinson Sword, which is owned by Energizer.
Energizer are a global consumer products company that includes Energizer batteries Playtex feminine protection and both Schick and Wilkinson wet shaving products. They have commercial and production operations in 49 countries and distribution in another 131 countries. And are number two in the USA shaving market but still only a fraction of the size of Gillette.
The history of all the shaving brands consolidating then consolidating again comes from their inability to compete with Gillette. Now, with this latest consolidation, there are even more brands under the same roof. Will this enable them to compete more effectively with Gillette? I doubt it, I see the threat to Gillette’s position coming out of China or India. Already Super-Max of India is the second biggest manufacturer of razor blades in the world.
When it comes to we traditional, double edged (DE) razor users the Energizer takeover could go one of three ways. The worst for us is if they concentrate on system razors, ruthlessly taking on Gillette, turning all their manufacturing and marketing over to doing so. This makes the most sense for them in terms of creating profitability. The second option is to continue with the current muddle, with fragmented brands and products. The best option for us is if they drive the different brands hard into different market segments and they regard DE shaving in the West as being one of those segments.
So if there is a DE blade that you particularly like that is marketed as one of their many brands then it might be worth buying a few hundred, just in case.