LDC Top 50 2021
Imran, Nohman and Rizwan Ahmed
“We made shoe care sexy,” says Rizwan Ahmed. Rizwan, alongside his brothers Imran and Nohman, are the founders of Crep Protect, maker of unique hydrophobic protection sprays and cleaning products aimed at extending the lifespan of sneakers.
Launched in 2013, the company is now the global shoe care partner chosen by sportswear giant adidas, and counts DJ Khaled as a brand ambassador. The brothers credit their entrepreneurial father, who came to the UK in the seventies and launched his own restaurant, for their ambition and drive. “We’re just getting started,” says Nohman. “In four years, we’ll be a billion-dollar group.”
We’re just getting started. In four years, we’ll be a billion-dollar group.”
Tell me about how you got to where you are today?
Nohman: Around the time we launched, Instagram had become the new go-to social platform. We began posting videos there showing our product withstanding extreme conditions. We would put sneakers under a running tap, or pour ketchup on them. That’s when loads of people started to shout about us, and when the independent stores started asking to stock our products. Then came larger retail partners such as Footlocker and JD Sports. Today, we also have 1.5m followers on Instagram alone.
What are your ambitions for this business?
Rizwan: “We wanted to recreate our category and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve got Premier League footballer Dele Alli and DJ Khaled promoting a shoe care brand. That would have been ludicrous to think about a few years ago. We have built a premium brand; the Apple of shoe care.”
Why has your international strategy been so successful?
Imran: We’re a major exporter and generate 65pc of revenues outside of the UK. We are worldwide licence holders for adidas shoe care and have our in-store sneaker dry cleaning service in some flagship locations around the world. We have a presence in more than 20,000 stores across 52 countries, including retail giants such as JD Sports, Snipes and Footlocker. But we also made the decision to have our own standalone store in Dubai. It’s just the home of glitz and glamour, which made it the perfect place for us to be.