How Kurt Geiger Is Still Paying Retail Employees, Finding Business Bright Spots + Accelerating Aid Efforts

Katie Abel

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While many big shoe players have made tough decisions to implement furloughs during the past few weeks, Kurt Geiger is still paying employees — thanks to support from Cinven, the company’s private equity owner, and Lloyds, its bank.

The company said today that the financial backing is allowing it to look beyond the coronavirus crisis and focus on aiding health-care workers and its own team.

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“Our goal is to maintain our store staff on full pay during the crisis period,” said CEO Neil Clifford. “Our No. 1 priority is to look after all of our people as best we can. They have worked hard for us and it’s time for us to look after them. People will have long memories after this is over, and we want to ensure we do the right thing every step of the way.”

Kurt Geiger, which is also encouraging employees to volunteer in their communities through the company’s Small Acts of Kindness campaign — is also stepping up donations to health-care workers to thank them for their tireless service.

The company gave shoes and bags, valued at 100,000 pounds ($125,000), to Britain’s National Health Service front-line workers last week and is on track to do the same this week. By the end of the year, it expects to have donated 5 million pounds ($6.2 million) worth of merchandise.

“The silver lining of this terrible pandemic is seeing how people are coming together. Kindness really is the new luxury,” Clifford said.

Kurt Geiger also is tapping into business bright spots during a challenging time. Backless flat shoes are proving to be popular stay-at-home purchases, and the brand’s rainbow-themed shoes and bags are very much in demand.

Sales of the rainbow items have been doubling week after week, and the company sold the same number of units last week as it did during the week before Christmas in 2019.

The rainbow has come to represent hope. In her touching address on Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II referenced the symbol, which many children have been drawing, as a fitting expression of the national spirit.

“The silver lining of this terrible pandemic is seeing how people are coming together. Kindness really is the new luxury,” Clifford said.

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