FTC Stops Blockbuster Razor Deal Between Harry’s and Edgewell

DTC startup Harry's won't become a corporate sibling to Schick

Harry's DTC men's shaving kit
DTC shaving brand Harry's has helped lower prices, and the FTC wants to keep it that way.
Harry's
By Tobias Carroll / February 4, 2020 1:37 pm

Are you worried about monopolies? Whether or not certain companies hold too much power and too much sway over an industry is something that’s become a hot issue in this election year. Several candidates have called for the breakup of large technology companies, for example. A high-profile book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, was released last year as well.

In a 2019 interview, author Matt Stoller raised an alarm about the current rise of monopolies, saying, “We’re facing a breakdown of the rule of law itself.”

Now, the FTC has taken action to block a corporate maneuver that would have made an industry powerhouse even larger. What was it? Has the FTC finally cracked down on Amazon? Well, no. The FTC’s move did involve a startup — but it’s one in a very different industry.

Recode reports that the FTC stopped the planned sale of razor startup Harry’s to Edgewell, the parent company of brands like Schick. Jason Del Rey has the details:

According to the FTC’s complaint published Monday afternoon, the agency saw Harry’s arrival in brick-and-mortar retail chains — first Target and later Walmart — as the main impetus that forced Edgewell to lower prices on its Schick razors.

Meaning, essentially, that competition between the two had lowered prices for consumers — competition that would no longer exist when the two companies were one.

The ways that certain companies can come to dominate certain industries have unsettled many observers; eyewear is another example that’s drawn scrutiny in recent years. The scuttling of this particular merger may seem small compared to the effects of tech companies, but at least it’s something.

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