ColombiaOne.comBusinessCroydon: The Revival of Colombia's Iconic Shoe Brand

Croydon: The Revival of Colombia’s Iconic Shoe Brand


Croydon Colombia Shoes
Croydon now produces approximately six million pairs of shoes annually. Credit: Alejandro Giatsidakis / ColombiaOne

Founded in 1937 in Cali by Swiss entrepreneurs, Croydon Colombia initially specialized in rubber products for the military, including boots and rain gear. The company expanded into footwear manufacturing in 1942, marking the beginning of its journey as a renowned shoe brand. A partnership in 1944 with the American company Rubber, known for Uniroyal Tires, bolstered Croydon’s shoe production, particularly its rubber soles. This collaboration led to the formation of Croydon Uniroyal, one of Colombia’s first multinational enterprises, cementing its position in the market.

Croydon challenges and closure

The 1990s brought significant challenges for Croydon Colombia. The liberal economic policies of President Cesar Gaviria opened the Colombian market to international competition, particularly cheap imports from Asia. This shift, combined with changing consumer preferences and the influx of trendy foreign brands, eroded Croydon’s market share. The company’s struggles were compounded by the deaths of its founders and unsuccessful business mergers. Facing mounting debts and declining sales, Croydon Colombia was eventually closed in 1996 under President Ernesto Samper’s administration.

Revival under new ownership

In the aftermath of its closure, Juan Carlos Restrepo, an entrepreneur from Antioquia with a background in the textile and footwear industry, purchased Croydon Colombia from the government. Restrepo’s acquisition marked a turning point for the brand. He revitalized the company, focusing on innovation and quality in product design. Under his leadership, Croydon Colombia has made a remarkable comeback in the competitive footwear market. The company now produces approximately six million pairs of shoes annually, with canvas sneakers and rubber boots being its flagship products. Croydon’s annual sales have reached 215 billion Colombian pesos, demonstrating its successful reestablishment as a leading shoe brand in Colombia.

Today, Croydon Colombia stands as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of Colombian businesses. The company has successfully navigated the challenges posed by international competition, particularly from Chinese imports. By focusing on product innovation and maintaining high standards of quality, Croydon Colombia has regained its position in the market, competing effectively with both imported and domestic footwear brands. The story of Croydon Colombia shoes is not just about overcoming adversity but also about the enduring appeal of quality and innovation in the global marketplace.

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