Kleen-exit: Iconic tissue brand to be wiped from Canadian shelves

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Kleenex to be wiped from Canadian store shelves
WATCH - Kleenex to be wiped from Canadian store shelves – Aug 25, 2023

Here’s an issue: you soon won’t be able to find Kleenex tissue in Canada.

The maker of the iconic brand told Global News Friday it has made the decision to pull its tissues from the Canadian market.

Todd Fisher, Kimberly-Clark Canadian vice-president and general manager, said in a statement its Kleenex business has been faced with “unique complexities” in Canada.

“The decision was incredibly difficult for us to make, and we appreciate consumers allowing us into their homes over the decades, and to our retail partners for their support,” Fisher said.

“We have been operating in a highly constrained supply environment, and despite our best efforts we have been faced with some unique complexities on the Kleenex business.”

Two boxes of Kleenex tissues are displayed in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The maker of Kleenex told Global News Friday it will no longer be selling its tissue products in Canada. Dee-Ann Durbin/AP

Fisher added that the decision to pull Kleenex tissues from Canada will allow Kimberly-Clark to shift its resources to focus on its other brands in Canada and “meet the needs of our consumers with continued innovation and value.”

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The decision to remove the product was made this month, a spokesperson said. It’s unclear how many Kleenex tissue products remain available for purchase in Canadian stores.

Other Kimberly-Clark products remain available for purchase, however.

Kleenex professional facial products and Kleenex consumer hand towel products will remain in the Canadian market, as well as other Kimberly-Clark brands, including Cottonelle, Viva, U by Kotex, Poise, Depend, Huggies, Pull-Ups and Goodnites, the spokesperson said.

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Kleenex posted a farewell message on its website as well.

“Thank you so much for your loyalty to our Kleenex brand facial tissues for the past few decades,” the message reads.

“We appreciate you allowing us in your households and want you to know how difficult it was for us to end our sales in Canada.”

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Joanne McNeish, an associate professor of marketing at Toronto Metropolitan University, said Kleenex’s tissue discontinuation isn’t a complete surprise.

“They’ve been in trouble for quite a while and COVID was sort of a bit of a redemption in terms of revenue,” she said, referencing the onset of the crisis, when people were stockpiling toilet paper.

“But truly, they’ve been on their way to do this for a while.”

McNeish pointed to cuts the company made in 2018 that resulted in more than 5,000 workers, or roughly 12 per cent of staff, leaving the company and 10 factories closing.

Kleenex tissue is just the latest brand to leave the Canadian market.

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In February, Nestlé Canada said it would “wind down” and end sales of its frozen food products, including DelissioStouffer’sLean Cuisine and Life Cuisine in Canada.

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In an email to Global News, Nestlé Canada said the company decided to invest in categories that offer the most potential for growth in the “highly competitive Canadian market.”

Those categories include candy, coffee items, ice cream, infant food and supplements, health products, bottled water and pet food.

John Carmichael, president and CEO of Nestlé Canada, said in the company statement that the decision to pull frozen foods from Canada enables the company to “further invest in priority categories and the company is open to enhancing their portfolio where it makes sense for their business.”

Bugles, the iconic cone-shaped corn snack, said in a November 2022 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that its product was no longer available in Canada.

Skippy peanut butter left the country in 2017, while Little Debbie dessert cakes were gone last year.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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