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Philip Kingsley’s Blake Hughes Talks Growth Strategy

The new chief executive officer began work with the U.K.-based hair brand from Unilever's Murad this month.

Philip Kingsley has a new chief executive officer.

Blake Hughes, formerly the managing director of Unilever-owned Murad in Europe and Africa, began work with the London-based hair brand earlier this month.

The appointment of Hughes is timed with the one-year-anniversary of brand founder Philip Kingsley’s death — the celebrity hair and scalp expert died in September of last year.

Kingsley was a trichologist to the stars — his client list spanned generations of famous names, from Audrey Hepburn to Victoria Beckham. His wife and daughters now own the business he built, which includes two clinics with locations in London and New York and a retail product range. In his new role, Hughes will report to Joan Kingsley, Philip Kingsley’s wife.

Hughes was brought on board to define a long-term strategy for the Philip Kingsley brand, with a focus on international expansion and growing the digital and e-commerce business. His appointment also comes at a time when consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about hair care and health.

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Hughes declined to talk financials, but industry sources estimate the Philip Kingsley retail products to be a significantly smaller portion of the business than revenue from the clinics.

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“We’re the experts in hair health — ultimately that immense knowledge and background and understanding puts us in a unique position,” Hughes said in an interview with WWD during his first week on the job. “But the other piece of it is that those who knew Philip or have been to the clinic will tell you it’s more than just the product you apply to your hair, it’s a holistic view of how to have your best hair, looking at your health and fitness and stress levels. He was very much ahead of what has now become holistic wellness and is much more mainstream in the beauty world.”

Hughes’ first plan of action is to tackle the brand’s web site and digital strategy to drive brand awareness in the U.S. “People are more willing to talk about [hair loss] now and research online how to combat issues — it’s more out in the open. They’re going to be able to learn more about how Philip Kingsley can help them,” Hughes said. “In the short term we have a huge way to go with driving awareness for our clinic in New York and our own web site.”

The next step for Hughes will be international expansion. He did not specify specific markets, but noted that the interesting markets to him are the ones that are already strong in skin-care. “The U.S. is obviously a huge potential market, but we’re seeing the explosion [of the beauty market] everywhere — those markets that have got strong, established skin-care markets, the Asian markets….You can seen an obvious extension the desire to be the best you. People are now realizing how important hair is to the perception beauty.”