Shoe polish giant pulls products from UK as sales drop due to trainers and Covid

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The rise of the trainer has made shoe polish all but redundant in the UK (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The rise of the trainer has made shoe polish all but redundant in the UK (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A leading shoe polish manufacturer is pulling its products from Britain due to a steady decline in popularity.

Covid has seen more and more people opting to work from home, accelerating a drop in sales.

But the issue is much wider than that and in part due to people's preference for trainers these days - a footwear that doesn't require shining.

Kiwi is sold in over 180 countries and is responsible for more than 50% of the world's polish.

The firm - founded in 1906 - says it will continue to sell its products in nations where such shoe care "remains relevant".

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It adds that the change is thanks to a "rise in casual shoes that don't require formal polishing".

David James, whose family have run a shoe repair business for 100 years in central London, said it is a "sign of the times".

Shoe polish giant pulls products from UK as sales drop due to trainers and CovidShoe polish giant Kiwi is pulling its products from the UK (Alamy Stock Photo)

The 62-year-old told the Mail on Sunday: "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.

"Also, trainers are being worn more and more – even to work. While shoes are dying, trainers are alive. We now renovate sneakers – repair and paint them."

"It is what you did on a Sunday night before school or work for the week, but those days are fast fading," he said.

Shoe polish giant pulls products from UK as sales drop due to trainers and CovidMore and more people are now working from home (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Mr James - who is currently based in Canary Wharf - said some people come into his shop who have never polished a shoe in their life and don't know how to.

Kiwi still remains, however, the number one choice for the military, where serving personnel must keep their leather glowing at all times.

It was started by Australian businessman William Ramsay whose wife was from New Zealand - hence the name.

Rivals Cherry Blossom, which launched in the same year, sees Kiwi's disappearance from the UK as a major opportunity.

A spokesperson said there's "always a place for a shine in your step".

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The Mirror has contacted Kiwi for comment.

Ryan Merrifield

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