Employee bid keeps Oxydol in P&G family

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There's more than one way to dispose of an old brand, Procter & Gamble Co. found when it agreed to become a godparent of sorts for its latest orphan brand.

When P&G opened bids for Oxydol last month, the best offer surprisingly came from two employees: Todd Wichmann, brand manager for P&G's Cascade automatic dish detergent brand, and Richard Owen, senior finance manager.

In a new twist in its long effort to divest small brands with no global potential--mainly to smaller competitors--P&G agreed to the deal if it could retain a minority stake in its soon-to-be ex-employees' new company, Redox Brands.

Redox plans to acquire 10 orphan laundry and cleaning brands and reach $1 billion in sales within 10 years, but it's starting small. Oxydol only had $6.6 million in sales in the 52 weeks ended May 21, according to Information Resources Inc., down from $80 million in the late 1980s.

Launched in 1927 as P&G's first laundry detergent brand, Oxydol was title sponsor of the first radio soap opera in 1933 but got little marketing support in the past decade.

While Redox will only provide trade promotion support at first, Mr. Wichmann said, "Oxydol is still a superior product with incredible upside potential."

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