The history of J & P Coats began in the early part of the nineteenth century in the Scottish city of Paisley. In 1812 the Clark brothers built a factory for the production of threads, later, in 1826, James Coats began the production of sewing threads, also in Paisley. Both became famous yarn manufacturers and amalgamated in 1896. From this developed a spinning mill which at the time was considered one of the first integrated businesses.
At the end of the 18th century the company Mez was created in Germany by Carl Mez as a silk ribbon weaving mill for the Markgraftler Trachten in Kandern at Lörrach. The origins of the company, Schachenmayr, again go back to a small wool spinning mill, which was started at the beginning of the 19th century. Zip fastener production was started in 1936 by Erich Heilmann. In 1955, under the label Opti-lon, he developed the first mass produced nylon spiral zip fastener in the world. These 3 large brands were brought together under the roof of the Coats company; from 1930, the company Mez; from 1984, the company Schachenmayr, and Opti in 1989.
- 1806 - The importation of silk from Continental Europe to the UK was paralysed by barriers imposed due to the Napoleonic wars. Silk was used for sewing.
- 1806-1812: Without this raw material the Coats brothers, James and Peter, successfully produced thread from cotton in Paisley, Scotland. Cotton was imported via Liverpool and therefore not affected by the barriers. Since then Paisley has been well known for the production of Paisley Shawls from cotton.
- 1812: Once established the company developed rapidly. As a result of the Industrial revolution in England, new machines for spinning and twisting were invented which helped the development. The first sewing thread for household purposes was produced, then a thread for industry, the latter making the sewing machine a reality.
- 1830-1890: The Coats family began to create new companies abroad in order to avoid import bans. There were branches in the USA, Brazil, China, and India. The Coats family- Protestant Baptists- believed in the social welfare of others and built churches, schools and worker homes.
- 1896: Coats merged with Clark, a competitor in Paisley who manufactured hand-knitting wool under the brand Anchor. The new company, J & P Coats, employed over 50,000 people worldwide and were one of the first global companies. The company was also one of the five largest listed companies at the London Stock Exchange.
Expansion in Europe
- 1900-1930: In order to gain a foot-hold in Western Europe, Coats bought parts of family companies which had been started in the 19th century. These companies were often in difficulty due to family controversy or financial strife.
- 1911: In Italy the company Cantoni in Lucca
- 1912: In Spain the company Fabra in Barcelona
- 1922-1930: In Germany the company Mez
Consolidation in Germany
1932: The great-grandchildren Christian Adam and Paul join the company. They are the sixth generation of the family in the business and become members of the executive committee. The export business which was lost during the war is re-structured. New branches for distributing silks and yarn are opened in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin.