NEW YORK – Gillette Co. (G) on Wednesday unveiled its newest shaving system, a five-bladed razor called Fusion with a trimmer on the back of the cartridge aimed at the 50 percent of men who have mustaches and beards.
Fusion is Gillette's latest product geared at maintaining the company's leading share of the world's razor and blade market.
It has one more blade than the Quattro sold by rival Schick, a unit of Energizer Holdings Inc. (ENR), plus a trimming blade on the back of the pivoting cartridge for shaping facial hair, trimming sideburns and shaving under the nose.
Gillette was the first company to sell a three-bladed razor, Mach3 (search), in 1998. Five years later, Schick followed with the four-bladed Quattro.
Schick is adding a battery-powered Quattro to its lineup this month, while Gillette's Fusion — in both manual and battery-powered models — won't hit North American stores until early next year.
"The Schick launch has nothing to do with this, it's like comparing a Ferrari to a Volkswagen as far as we're concerned," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive James Kilts.
Some had expected Gillette to bring out a four-bladed razor, perhaps a self-lubricating one. Instead, it jumped to five blades, or six including the trimmer, and will sell Fusion-branded shaving gels and after shave balm.
"There was never a plan to go to four," he said. said Peter Hoffman, president of Gillette's blades and razors business, who said Fusion was in the development pipeline for several years.
Gillette, which also makes Duracell batteries, said in a meeting with analysts and reporters in New York that Fusion's battery-powered version has a microchip that makes an indicator light turn on to warn users when the battery is running down.
Hoffman said Gillette's capital spending behind Fusion was lower than what was spent on Mach3, but did not provide specific financial details. He said Fusion would add to earnings as soon as it launches.
The Fusion razor and two cartridges will cost about $9.99, and Fusion Power, with one cartridge and a Duracell battery, will cost about $11.99. A four-pack of Fusion cartridges will sell for $12 to $13 and a four-pack of Fusion Power cartridges will cost $13 to $14, Gillette said.
Fusion should hit stores when Gillette is owned by Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) if that deal is approved as expected this fall. P&G said on Wednesday it will sell its SpinBrush (search) toothbrush business to Church & Dwight Co. Inc. (CHD), a move it hopes will help lead to antitrust approval of the acquisition of Gillette Co.
Shares of Boston-based Gillette shares were down 26 cents at $53.46 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Fusion is the first entirely new men's razor system launched by Gillette since Mach3. But early last year, Gillette launched M3Power, a men's battery-operated pulsating model, which is now the world's top-selling razor.