Courtaulds and the Hosiery & Knitwear Industry


In its bid to build a vertically integrated textiles empire, Courtaulds acquired famous hosiery and knitwear brands such as Aristoc, Kayser Bondor, Lyle & Scott and Wolsey. The author examines its business and acquisition strategy, organisation, and structure as it fought for survival in a hostile era for British clothing and textiles.

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Courtaulds was hit by the decline of the wholesale distributors resulting from the loss of thousands of small and medium-sized retailers, and the increasing power of the town stores that were in fierce competition with each other. The company was very much tied into the multiples, particularly Marks & Spencer. However, as the author explains, certain aspects of the culture at M&S (including laudable ones such as loyalty to the UK supply chain) had a deleterious effect on Courtaulds Textiles plc, eventually leading to its takeover by Sara Lee Corporation.

This book provides the first detailed examination of the rise and fall of the industry in the crucial period since the 1960s. The narrative traces the growth in imports and the decline in employment, and exposes major strategy problems and looks at how Courtaulds reacted to changing domestic and global trading conditions. The globalisation of trade opened up the UK clothing industry to low-cost competition and when this could not be countered many firms soon capitulated or were taken over by the multi-nationals. Eventually even these failed to survive and most of the manufacturing capacity in the UK was closed.

Courtaulds and the hosiery and knitwear industry should appeal to those who have an interest in business history, and in textiles and clothing manufacturing, as well as to those approaching this subject for the first time.

  • Author: Bramwell G. Rudd
  • Binding: Paperback and hardback
  • ISBN: (pb) 978-1-905472-06-2 and (hb) 9781905472185
  • Pages: 352
  • Illustrations: Mono throughout
  • Dimensions: 234 x 156

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