Razor maker Harry's CEO explains why it's on the acquisition hunt and getting into cat food after its hopes of being acquired by Schick's parent company fell through

  • Razor brand Harry's is expanding into new stores and product categories, such as cat food, after the demise in February of its planned acquisition by Edgewell, the maker of Schick.
  • Now, Co-CEO Jeff Raider said that Harry's is open to acquiring small consumer brands that it can scale up as it builds a roster of products far beyond shaving supplies.
  • It also plans to start selling packs of its razors at Costco in the US on Sunday, adding to its existing physical-store distribution at Target and Walmart.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Harry's started 2020 on the path to being acquired by one of the US's largest consumer companies.

Now, instead of being acquired, Harry's is open to making acquisitions. Co-CEO Jeff Raider told Business Insider that the company would consider buying small brands that it could scale up using resources it has in-house, similar to a startup accelerator.

Going into new categories has taken on added importance for Harry's this year. In February, Edgewell, the maker of Schick razors, scrapped plans to buy the company for $1.37 billion after the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the deal on the grounds that it would reduce competition. Harry's and other startups like Dollar Shave Club broke into the market by offering razors at lower prices than established players like Edgewell and Procter & Gamble.

"Right now, we're focused on our own independent strategy," Raider said. "Though we would consider buying brands in addition to building them."

Read more: Procter & Gamble has a history of acquiring small but fast-growing brands, and experts think these 10 companies could be next

How P&G is transforming its grooming business to compete with Harry's and rival Unilever's Dollar Shave Club

Increasingly, razors are just one part of Harry's arsenal. The company, co-founded by Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield in 2012, has expanded into women's razors, men's body wash, and other personal care products in recent years. Its additions this year include an anti-dandruff shampoo with fewer chemicals than established options as well as a line of protein-heavy, grain-free cat food and treats it sells under a brand called Cat Person.

Harry's Labs, the company's brand development division, has already worked with startups and worked with Cat Person's founders on the brand. 

The consumer data, marketing strategies, and website infrastructure that Harry's has built over the last eight years are all be valuable to an early-stage startup and allow founders to "spend all their time focusing on the product and the customer, which is something that, frankly, I wish I'd had the opportunity to do early on at Harry's," Raider said.

"We think that that's what a modern-day CPG company should look like, feel like and be like: A ton of autonomy to go run businesses in a way that's going to be great for consumers with a set of resources that can support everybody," he added.

Shaving razors have become one of the most competitive product categories in personal care. Harry's, which commanded about 7% of sales of men's razors in 2019, according to Euromonitor, and other upstarts like Dollar Shave Club have taken market share away from Edgewell and Procter & Gamble's Gillette brand. Those established players have responded by releasing new brands and products of their own.

"What was exciting for us about the Edgewell opportunity was that we were going to get to take over and run all of their brands in North America," Raider said. "We could then try to take a lot of the philosophies we had at Harry's and apply them to a bunch of other brands," including other product categories.

"Absent Edgewell as a partner, what we've done is looked at our strategy again and really doubled down on building that ourselves," he said. 

Raider said the company is still doing more to promote its core label. The brand is adding Costco to the list of retailers that carry its razors Sunday with a pack that will include a handle and 13 cartridges. Though it started life as a direct-to-consumer brand, Harry's already sells its razors through Target, Walmart, and other physical stores.

"For me, what's exciting is a lot of people in the world don't know about Harry's," Raider said, adding that over 50% of the US population isn't aware of the brand. Expanding Harry's razors and other products into new retailers allows the company to reach more customers, especially outside of the tech-savvy crowd that formed its customer base in its early years, he added.

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