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Tributes to ex-Kickers boss Tony Parkin

The footwear trade is mourning the loss of Tony Parkin, the former UK boss of Kickers who passed away last week.

Parkin, who died suddenly at his home, was single-handedly responsible for the Kickers boom in the 1990s, when the brand dominated young fashion footwear sales, making significant cash for footwear retailers at the time.

“He was a unique character who did things his way. He was passionate about shoes. The industry will miss one of its great personalities.”

Andy Rubin, chief executive, Pentland Brands

He left the Pentland Brands-owned footwear label in 2007 and set up a consultancy. Most recently he worked on creating footwear for streetwear brand Fenchurch and consulting for Levi’s and Supremebeing, and was planning to launch his own label called Nth.

Andy Rubin, chief executive of Pentland Brands, said: “Tony Parkin worked for Pentland for 20 years. He started when the Kickers brand in the UK was a single shoe and he built the brand into what it is today. He was a unique character who did things his way. He was passionate about shoes. The industry will miss one of its great personalities.”

Schuh managing director Colin Temple said: “Kickers changed the way Schuh did business in 1990. Tony really set Schuh off on a branded journey. We had a great affection and a lot of respect for Tony.

Debenhams senior men’s footwear buyer Brian Hartley, who first met Parkin in the late 1980s, said: “He was a phenomenal product man, which is why Kickers was so good for so long. He was fiercely protective of where the brand went and every year for nearly 15 years he came out with new soles and lasts that everyone wanted to copy.”

Barratts Priceless chief executive Michael Ziff worked with Parkin for 20 years. He said: “Tony was one of the true honest people of the trade. He was very hard working and was truly knowledgeable about product. He was a flexible and understanding merchant.”

Peter Tainton who bought Kickers from Parkin during his time at River Island added: “He was a larger than life characters and a very kind man. He achieved so much Ina short space of time and was incredibly talented. He built one of the UK’s biggest footwear brands in Kickers and maintained it for a long time. His new project in Fenchurch had shown some growth spurts and he had so much to give to the industry.”

Parkin had two children. Hartley added: “He was an immensely proud father and that is what he would want to be remembered for.”

Tony Parkin’s funeral takes place today.

To share your memories of Tony Parkin please post your comments in the box below.

Readers' comments (4)

  • I was lucky enough to work for Tony Parkin for over 17 years and we kept in touch when he left Pentland to start his own company, I was sad to hear the news that he passed away at such an early age but then recall what a great time we all had helping him build the Kickers brand with Pentland, Tony was a straight talking guy who could inspire you to reach the top in whatever you did, hence Kickers a brand PHENOMMENON !

    John McInerney

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  • I was lucky to be close to Tony on both personal and business levels from 1999 and until recently and in my capacity as the agent and distributor of Kickers for Cyprus. Tony had a phenomenal success both as a business man but above all, as a person who could easily understand and sympathize others. My sincere condolences to his family for their great loss.

    Nikos Hartsiotis - Cyprus

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  • I have just returned to my home in Luxembourg from holiday to hear the sad news about Tony. I have very fond memory's of working on the same floor as he did at The Pentland Centre in Finchley when he first started trying to develop the Kickers MTO line. As I was running non competing brands (Pony and Ellesse) we were free to “shoot the breeze” at the beginning and end of those 12 to 14 hour days we were both putting in to our respective brands. In those early difficult days he never lost the belief that he would make it happen and as we all know he did make it happen in a very spectacular way. Tony Parkin was a member of that dwindling tribe of true shoe men. I think myself blessed to have known him.
    Graham Pollard

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  • I Knew Tony when he was just starting with Kickers, and had dealings with him formany years.
    He always had ideas for taking the brand forward, and my memories of him will always be of his great warmth and determination - my heartfelt thoughts are with his wife and family -

    Tony Dear

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