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Founder Of KIWI Shoe Polish And Its New Owners

Kiwi shoe polish was developed in Australia by William Ramsay, who named it after the bird native to New Zealand, the home country of his wife, Annie Elizabeth Meek.

The company’s care brands, including polish, creams, and cleaners, have the largest market share in Kenya among other countries.

Here is the story of Kiwi as told by WoK.


The shoe polish was developed in Australia by Scottish-born Australian shoe polish manufacturer, William Ramsay.

Kiwi was founded in 1906 and to date, it still remains one of the most famous shoe polish brands in the world.

Ramsay named the brand ‘Kiwi’ after the birds native to New Zealand which also appears to be his wife’s, Annie Elizabeth Meek, home country.

Interestingly, the spread of Kiwi shoe polish around the world enhanced the popular appeal of the kiwi as New Zealand’s national symbol.

Sara Lee

Since its inception, Kiwi has been owned by a number of companies including Kiwi Boot Polish Co. (1913–1916) and Kiwi Polish Co. (1916–1971).

In 1984, consumer goods manufacturer Sara Lee Corporation acquired Kiwi.

10 years later, the U.S Federal Trade Commission prevented the company from acquiring any further assets in the shoe care industry to prevent it from becoming a monopoly.

At the same time, The Competition Commission in the United Kingdom also investigated the potential monopoly of Sara Lee in the shoe care industry.

New owners

In 2011, Sara Lee announced the sale of Kiwi to S.C Johnson and Son East Africa as part of a global restructuring of the US company.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta who was then the finance minister approved SC Johnson’s take-over bid following an application filed under the Restrictive Trade Practices, Monopolies and Price Control Act.

On its website, Sara Lee said it received a binding offer of Ksh 31.1 billion from SC Johnson to buy the company’s global shoe care business, including in Kenya.

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