The Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit to block the sale of shaving startup Harry’s by Edgewell Personal Care, the maker of Schick razors. The regulator said Harry’s had been a “critical disruptive rival” that drove down prices and spurred innovation in the wet shave market.
“The Harry’s and Flamingo brands represent a significant and growing competitive threat to the two firms that have dominated the wet shaving market for decades,” Daniel Francis, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. “Edgewell’s effort to short-circuit competition by buying up its newer rival promises serious harm to consumers.”
In May 2019, Edgewell signed an agreement to buy Harry’s for $1.37 billion. Edgewell also owns the European brand Wilkinson Sword, but it remains smaller than its rival, Gillette.
Harry’s controlled 2.6% of the U.S. razor market in 2018, according to Euromonitor.
In a statement, Harry’s said it was disappointed in the Federal Trade Commission’s decision and was evaluating a path forward.
“We believe strongly that the combined company will deliver exceptional brands and products at a great value and are determined to bring those benefits to consumers,” the company said.
The shaving industry has seen consolidation in recent years. Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club in 2016 in a deal reportedly worth $1 billion, and Procter & Gamble bought Walker & Co. in 2018 for an undisclosed sum.
The FTC voted 5-0 to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the deal. The agency said an administrative trial would begin on June 30.
Harry’s was founded in 2013 by Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider, who was also a founder of eyeglass-maker Warby Parker. The company began as a direct-to-consumer brand selling razors online, before moving into traditional retail.
Edgewell stock was up more than 6% in midday trading Tuesday after a jump of 8% Monday.
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