Our heritage

For over 200 years, we have been restless pioneers, creating value added products and solutions that meet our customers’ changing needs.

Explore our interactive timeline

James Clark

1750s – 1770s

The early years

The origins of Coats can be traced to the Clark and Coats families that created the weaving and textile industries of Paisley, Scotland during the late 18th century.



Patrick Clark’s pioneering discovery is placed on the market

Clark's 3-ply sewing thread, using twisted cotton yarns as a cheaper, more readily available alternative to silk, is first placed on the market.

Skeins of cotton thread




James Coats establishes the first Ferguslie mill in Paisley

During this period, and with the advent of the industrial revolution, the Coats and Clark firms were at the forefront of the mechanisation of the textile industries in Scotland.



Starting to build a global footprint

Both the Clark and Coats firms are prospering, selling high quality sewing cotton around the world. They begin sending members of their families to America to act as selling agents.

Coats Family


Manufacturing facility


First listing on the London Stock Exchange

In 1890, Coats’ initial share offering takes place on London Stock Exchange. In 1896, the Coats and Clark firms merge to form J&P Coats Ltd, with a market value of around £22 million, over 50,000 employees worldwide, and approximately 25,000 shareholders.



One of the largest listed companies in the world

By now J&P Coats is growing into one of the world's largest company’s – at one point it was ranked by market capitalisation ($300.8 million) after US Steel and Standard Oil.

Coats Trading Card


Thread mill 1930's

1900s – 1980s

A growing, global presence

Coats' global presence and product range continue to grow throughout the 20th century as the company leveraged its roots as one of the first multinational companies to further strengthen its global network of commercial relationships and local knowledge.


1980s – 1990s

A challenging period for the textile industry

The final decades of the twentieth century saw a decline in manufacturing, and Coats had to adapt to new conditions to survive. In 1986, a merger with Vantona Viyella creates Coats Viyella. In the 1990s, Coats Viyella acquires Tootal Thread, a major global thread company, Rowan yarns, an upscale knitting yarn brand, and Barbour Thread, a leading speciality thread manufacturer.

Inside a Coats factory


GPG logo


A change in ownership

At the turn of a new century, Coats is acquired by Guinness Peat Group and delisted from the London Stock Exchange. A period of reorganisation and move of the manufacturing base from West to East begins.



A refocus on growth

Paul Forman appointed Chief Executive to put in place a new strategy that is orientated around growth and developing new products and services.

Coats logo


Coats Colour Express


New opportunities, long heritage

Digital products such as Coats Colour Express, the world’s fastest colour sampling service, launched, and new, growing markets such as fibre optics entered. Coats & Clark marked its 200th anniversary in the US.



A return to the London stock market

Coats returns to the market as 'Coats Group plc', 125 years after its first listing on the London Stock Exchange. The first acquisition is made on services firm GSD.

LSE members


Gotex on screen


Acquisitions and new product launches

As part of its growth strategy, the company acquires software solutions company Fast React Systems and high-performance materials manufacturers Gotex. Coats continues to develop products to solve customer problems. One example is Synergex, a carbon composite product range with applications for automotive and aerospace industries.



Moving from an industrial to a digital age

Rajiv Sharma is appointed as new Chief Executive. Rajiv Sharma and Coats enter the FTSE 250 index of UK companies with a market capitalisation of +£1bn Acquisitions continue with deal for Patrick Yarn Mill, a manufacturer of high-performance engineered yarns from renewable energy based in North Carolina, US.

Coats logo