Coats PLC

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Coats plc
Public limited company
Industry Consumer and intermediate goods
Headquarters Uxbridge, Middlesex (UK)
Key people
Mike Clasper,[1] Chairman
Paul Forman, CEO
Richard Howes, CFO
Products Textile arts related
Revenue $1,704m (2013)
Number of employees
Slogan foundation = 1755

Coats plc is an industrial thread and consumer textile crafts business.[2]


In the 1750s James and Patrick Clark began work in the loom equipment and silk thread business in Paisley, Scotland[3] In 1806 Patrick Clark invented a way of twisting cotton threads together to substitute for silk threads which were unavailable due to France's blockade of Great Britain and opened the first plant for manufacturing the cotton thread in 1812.[4]

In 1802 James Coats set up a weaving business, also in Paisley. In 1826 he opened a cotton mill at Ferguslie to produce his own thread[5] and, when he retired in 1830, his sons, James & Peter, took up the business under the name of J. & P. Coats.[4] The firm expanded internationally, particularly to the USA. In 1890 Coats listed on the London Stock Exchange,[3] with a capital base of £5.7M.[5]

In 1952 J. & P. Coats and the Clark Thread Co. merged.[4] In 1961 a merger with Patons and Baldwins created Coats Patons.[3] In 1986 a merger with Vantona Viyella created Coats Viyella.[3] In 2003 the Guinness Peat Group took over Coats Ltd and it is now registered as "Coats plc".[3]

American branch[edit]

Ad for the American branch, late 19th century.

Coats began selling its thread in the United States by the 1830s. It set up a network of agencies to sell its own Coats brand and, in 1869, began local manufacture of thread in Rhode Island. In 1864 the Clark family began manufacturing in Newark, New Jersey as the Clark Thread Co.[3] Thanks to its well-timed direct investments and the development of a flexible managerial structure, Coats came to dominate the American cotton thread market.[6]

Spanish branch[edit]

In 1903 J&P Coats joined a local company (Sucesores de Fabra y Portrabella) creating the Compañía anónima de Hilaturas Fabra y Coats, that became leader of the Spanish thread market as well as one of the main textile industries in Spain. Fabra y Coats had several factories in Barcelona and its surrounding area. The most important was the existing in the Sant Andreu district which activity ceased in 2005, though its industrial buildings have been preserved and currently house social & community services.


Coats plc does business under different names in different countries but most variations include "Coats". For example, in the U.S., it does business as "Coats & Clark, Inc." (consumer) and "Coats American, Inc." (industrial). In the UK and Ireland, it does business as "Coats (UK) Ltd", in Canada as "Coats Canada Inc" (and has an industrial subsidiary "Coats Bell"), and as "Coats Australian Pty Ltd" in Australia. Coats in Egypt does business as "Coats Egypt". It was also operating in India as "Madura Coats" famous for its "9to5 Man" brand of textiles.


In June 2012, Coats plc lost court challenges against European Union antitrust fines for fixing the price of fastners such as zips, rivets and snaps.[7] The European General Court dismissed Coats' appeal on all counts and upheld the 110m Euro fine imposed by the European Commission in its original decision of 19 September 2007.[8]

In February 2012, it is alleged union leaders were held captive by factory managers in Bangladesh whilst trying to resolve an industrial dispute. Union leaders had their mobile phones confiscated and were forcibly detained in Coats' head office building overnight, only releasing them when trade union colleagues alerted the local media.[9]


Coats makes and sells thread, zips, yarn, speciality textiles and related goods. Recent innovations have included Coats Protect, the world's first antimicrobial sewing thread[10][11] Coats Colour Express, a revolutionary web-based service that provides the apparel and footwear industry with the world’s fastest and most colour accurate sampling facility for industrial sewing thread[12][13] and Coats Insectiban, the world's first anti-bed bug sewing thread and zips [14]


Coats sells items catering to the needs of industries such as footwear, mattresses, quilting, automotive, outdoor and camping goods and furniture. Their operational units are accredited with TS16949, ISO9001, Ford Q1 Mark, SATRA Quality Mark and others.[15]


Coats produces zips for industrial applications in the apparel and speciality sectors, as well as for craft and home sewing usage.[16]


Coats make products suitable for a variety of needlecrafts such as knitting, crochet, embroidery and quilting.[17]


  • Dual Duty
  • Epic
  • Astra
  • Nylbond
  • Gramax
  • Sylko
  • Rowan[18]
  • Red Heart
  • TLC
  • Anchor
  • Susan Bates
  • Aunt Lydia
  • Milward Henry Milward & Sons
  • Sylko


Further reading[edit]

  • Kim, Dong-Woon. "From a Family Partnership to a Corporate Company: J. & P. Coats, Thread Manufacturers," Textile History, Autumn 1994, Vol. 25 Issue 2, pp 185–225
  • Kim, Dong-Woon. "The British multinational enterprise in the United States before 1914: The case of J. & P. Coats," Business History Review, Winter 1998, Vol. 72 Issue 4, pp 523–52
  • Kim, Dong-Woon. "J. & P. Coats in Tsarist Russia, 1889-1917," Business History Review, Winter 1995, Vol. 69 Issue 4, pp 465–94
  • Kininmonth, Kirsten W. "The growth, development and management of J. & P. Coats Ltd, c.1890–1960: An analysis of strategy and structure," Business History Oct2006, Vol. 48 Issue 4, pp 551–579
  • Knox, William W. Hanging by a Thread: The Scottish Cotton Industry, c. 1850-1914 (1995),
  • Financial Times 'Coats poised to return to LSE' by Mark Wembridge

External links[edit]