Wilkinson Sword marketing chief quits after management shake-up

Wilkinson Sword has ousted UK marketing chief David Bainbridge as part of a management overhaul sparked by poor launch sales of its four-blade Quattro razor.

Wilkinson Sword insiders say Bainbridge has been made a scapegoat for the failure to meet UK sales targets over the past four years. One source adds that Quattro’s launch struggled to meet targets, though the female razor Intuition, launched soon after Quattro last year, has been more successful.

Sources also say that Bainbridge has been squeezed out by the newly appointed European vice-president Colin Hutchison, a former United Biscuits McVities’s marketing chief who joined in May (MW May 6).

Hutchison has brought in former colleague and fellow United Biscuits marketing veteran Nick Powell to replace Bainbridge. Powell will oversee all marketing and management decisions as business manager for the UK and Ireland. UK marketing director Richard Nall will report to Powell, who starts at the company this week.

The company has relied on Quattro to reinvigorate sales in the UK, and committed more than &£10m to the launch (MW May 15, 2003). The razor has since struggled to dent Gillette’s dominance of the market, and Quattro’s share of the razor handles and blades market stands at about 3.4 per cent, according to IRI, much lower than the 56 per cent boasted by Gillette’s top brands Mach 3 and Mach 3 Turbo.

One observer claims that it is a case of the “biscuit makers taking over the razor factory”. He adds: “It is natural that Hutchison wants his own men in positions of power.”

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