Oct 09, 2023

Kiwi shoe polish to disappear from UK shelves due to Covid and trainers

The manufacturer, which has been in business for more than 100 years, will continue to sell its products in other countries

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Shoe polish company Kiwi is pulling its products from UK shelves

A leading producer of shoe polish is pulling its products from UK shelves in what's been called "a sign of the times".

Kiwi, originally founded in 1906, is sold in more than 180 countries and produces over 50% of the world's shoe polish products.

Changes in working patterns caused by Covid-19, as well as a rise in preference for more casual footwear such as trainers, has been suggested as the cause for the company's move out of the UK.

A spokesperson for Kiwi said "a rise in casual shoes that don't require formal polishing and an overall decrease in consumers polishing their shoes in the UK" had prompted them to withdraw from the UK market.

But they stressed "it would continue to remain active in markets where formal shoe care remains relevant."

Established in Melbourne, Australia, in 1906 the brand became a mainstay of British homes, with the business selling 250 million tins every year by the early 1980s. The military is also a major consumer of Kiwi polish for use in cleaning and shining boots.

One competitor, Cherry Blossom, has remarked how the withdrawal is a major opportunity for their growth.

Head of marketing Natasha Seal-Jones, said: "There's always a place for a shine in your step. Be it a job interview, a wedding or a party, having shiny, clean shoes gives confidence and that need will never disappear. We want to give that confidence."

Head of a family shoe cleaning company, David James, told the Mail on Sunday Kiwi's withdrawal was "a sign of the times."

The 62-year-old, whose London-based family business first started operating 100 years ago, went on to explain: "In part this is because people wear suits and smart shoes much less. Covid accelerated that with more working from home, but a trend was in place before then.

"Trainers are being worn more and more – even to work. While shoes are dying, trainers are alive."

Kiwi's parent company SC Johnson said: "After a thorough evaluation, [SC Johnson] has decided to exit the Shoe Care business in the UK in order to redirect our investments and resources to the company's strategic businesses and initiatives.

"With this decision, Kiwi will no longer be distributed by SCJ in this market."

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Shoe polish company Kiwi is pulling its products from UK shelves


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