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Courtaulds and the Hosiery and Knitwear Industry
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Abbreviations xv Preface xvii Glossary of terms xix Introduction 1 Background 2 Courtaulds' problems 2 Diversification 3 The business faces trouble 3 Problems for Kearton's successors 5 Chain stores and multiples 5 The power of Marks & Spencer 6 Corporate and organisation structure 6 Decline and irresistible price pressure 7 1 Origins: Courtaulds - The Hosiery and Knitwear Industry 9 Courtaulds c.1685 - 1963 9 Samuel Courtauld 10 Crisis in the crape industry 12 Tetley's high risk strategy 13 Samuel Courtauld IV 15 The rayon production boom and the impact of war 16 After the war - rayon under threat 17 Problems loom close 18 Frank Kearton 19 The Hosiery and Knitwear Industry c.1580 - 1960 19 World War One 21 The interwar years 22 Fashion and technology 23 World War Two 23 The period after World War Two 23 Liberalisation of trade and global trading 24 The structure of the hosiery and knitwear industry 24 2 Kearton widens the conglomerate 25 Background to the 1960s diversification 25 Diversification 26 The continued importance of rayon 26 Momentous times - The ICI takeover bid 28 Capital-intensive plants and the Lancashire spinning and textile industry 30 The failure of the 'Northern Plan' 30 Success under Kearton 31 Vertical trading 32 Kearton expands into hosiery and knitwear 33 A captive market for Celon 33 Proprietary yarn brands 34 Problems in the hosiery and knitwear industry 35 Kearton presses ahead 35 A management misfit 36 Strategy 37 Perspectives 38 3 The History of the Hosiery and Knitwear Acquisitions 39 In rise and decline 39 Background to the Hosiery and Knitwear Acquisitions 41 Fully-fashioned styles lose favour 42 Aristoc Ltd 46 The interwar years 46 The effects of World War Two 46 Courtaulds acquired Aristoc 47 Bairnswear Ltd 49 Bairnswear after World War Two 49 Courtaulds acquired Bairnswear 51 Ballito Hosiery Mills Ltd 52 Post World War Two 52 Ballito responds to decline 53 Ballito reorganisation hits trouble 53 Courtaulds acquired Ballito 54 George Brettle & Co. Ltd 55 Absentee management 56 The return of owner management 57 Post World War Two 57 Courtaulds acquired Brettles 59 College Hosiery Ltd 60 Courtaulds acquired College's capacity 60 Contour Hosiery Ltd 61 Intercontinental Fibres acquired Sellors and becomes Contour 61 Post World War Two 62 Machine building - a misfit 62 Further expansion 62 Courtaulds acquired Contour 63 Cook & Watts Ltd - West Riding Hosiery 63 Stockings unprofitable 64 Courtaulds acquired (Holts) West Riding Hosiery 64 Corah Sock Division (N. Corah & Sons) 64 Better times for Corah 64 St Margaret and Marks & Spencer in the interwar years 65 World War Two 66 Corah develops the M&S connection and ethos 66 Corah split up 66 Courtaulds acquired Corah Sock Division 67 Derby and Midland Mills - Blount & Co. Ltd 69 Impact of war 69 Change of ownership 69 Stockings prices under pressure in the 1960s 70 Favourable prospects for Blounts 70 Derby & Midland acquired by Courtaulds 71 Foister, Clay & Ward Ltd 71 F,C&W - three sites in Leicester 72 F,C&W - Kegworth 72 F,C&W - Derby 73 F,C&W - Middlesbrough 73 F,C&W - three factories at Mansfield 73 F,C&W - Irvine, Ayrshire 74 Courtaulds acquired Foister, Clay & Ward 74 Hendry & Spiers Ltd 75 Courtaulds acquired Hendry & Spiers 76 Highfield Productions Ltd 76 Courtaulds acquired Highfield Productions 77 Irvine Knitters Ltd 77 Courtaulds acquired Irvine Knitters 78 Kayser Bondor Ltd 78 Kayser Bondor - a famous brand name 79 Expansion after World War Two and the M&S connection 80 KB profits in decline 80 KB diversifies 81 KB takes action 81 Courtaulds acquired KB 82 Kilsyth Hosiery Co. Ltd 82 Courtaulds acquired Kilsyth Hosiery 83 Meridian Limited 84 Labour shortages in Nottingham after World War Two 86 Courtaulds acquired Meridian 86 Declining brand sales 86 A major acquisition 87 I. & R. Morley Ltd 87 Samuel Morley - outstanding entrepreneur 88 Expansion under Samuel Morley 88 Samuel Morley's successors 89 Morley in trouble after World War Two 89 Disastrous losses 90 Morley reorganises 91 Courtaulds acquired Morley 91 Percy Taylor Ltd 94 Courtaulds acquired Percy Taylor 94 Prew-Smith (Harry) Ltd 94 Courtaulds acquired Prew-Smith 95 R. Rowley & Co. Ltd 96 The interwar years 96 Rowley - A multi-product firm 97 Management change 98 Change in the supply chain 98 Rowley abandons stockings manufacturing 99 Rowley in decline 99 Courtaulds acquired Rowley 100 Skolnick Ltd (P. Beasley & Co. Ltd) 100 Courtaulds acquired Skolnick 101 Stewarton Hosiery Co. Ltd 101 Courtaulds acquired Stewarton 102 (Wolsey Ltd) Lyle & Scott 102 The Interwar Years - difficult times for Lyle & Scott 102 Lyle & Scott and 'Y front' 103 Success after World War Two 104 Lyle & Scott acquired by Wolsey 104 Wolsey Ltd 104 Successful policy in the interwar years 104 Challenges after World War Two 105 Wolsey supplies chain stores 106 Wolsey - Corah merger talks fail 106 Courtaulds acquired Wolsey (Including Lyle & Scott) 106 Moving towards Kearton's departure 107 4 Kearton's Legacy 110 Complex and fragmented 110 Mixed success 111 Structure under Kearton 112 Courtaulds' main board changes 112 Financial reporting channels 113 Company structure 113 Management reporting - non-financial 114 Kearton in personal control 115 Integration and decline of the fine-gauge hosiery businesses 116 The importance of nylon in the supply chain 117 The factories were subservient 117 Celon - a problem yarn, creates culture problems 117 The decline of the fully-fashioned stockings trade 118 The acquisitions 118 Rationalisation 119 A new use for the Brettle's Belper site 120 Fine-gauge hosiery - a basic commodity product 121 Total integration for fine-gauge hosiery 122 Courtaulds narrows the hosiery brand offer 122 Expansion in the 1960s - but Courtaulds fine-gauge hosiery loses its way 123 Courtaulds fails to benefit from the improving market 123 Hosiery business re-development project 123 Excess capacity in hosiery 124 Low-cost imports 125 Italian high quality tights 125 Contraction 126 Deeper cuts 126 Integration and decline of the knitwear businesses 126 Courtaulds' three major knitwear acquisitions 127 Medium sized knitwear enterprises 127 Satellite acquisitions 128 Morley - a mixed wholesaling and manufacturing company 128 Rowley, a mixed product - multi-site general manufacturer 128 Knitwear reorganisation commences quickly - F,C&W is split up 128 Wolsey fully-fashioned knitting closed 130 Further coordination 130 Client portfolios introduced 130 Selling prices 130 Fully-fashioned knitwear in rapid decline 131 The brand business 131 Retrenchment 131 Technology - Shaped garment panels 132 Further retrenchment 132 Wolsey factories weakened 134 The non-M&S business 134 Rowley struggles on 135 Lyle & Scott and Jockey brands 135 Courtaulds sells Lyle & Scott 136 Further decline 136 Low-cost imports 136 Integration and decline of the knitted underwear businesses 137 The early shakeout 138 Price competition 139 Meridian and Meridian Prew-Smith Division 139 Courtaulds centralises underwear knitting 140 The Underwear Product Group 140 Children's underwear - non-M&S 142 The Mothercare chain 142 Offshore processing - children's underwear 143 Globalisation of trade - M&S 143 Technology 144 Central Underwear Knitting closed 145 Wolsey Brand 145 Management buyout for Wolsey brand name 146 Lyle & Scott 'Y' Front and Jockey 146 Wholesale 146 Closure 146 The integration and decline of the sock businesses 147 Foister, Clay & Ward 147 More sock factories 148 Rowley absorbs Contour 149 Rowley - the advantage of a multi-product range 149 Meridian - the minor brands 150 Wolsey - the major player 150 Courtaulds Sock Division 151 Decline in children's socks 152 Courtaulds Sock Division - a failed concept 152 Philosophy and culture 153 Consolidation 153 Sock division disbanded 153 Courtaulds and Marks & Spencer 154 Courtaulds disposes of Wolsey brand 154 Children's socks centralised at Queen St Leicester 155 Courtaulds Sock Division (second version) 155 Globalisation of trade 156 Rowley closes 156 Kearton's legacy in retrospect 156 The contribution of the acquisitions to the product sectors 157 5 Change under Kearton's Successors: Devolution and Demerger 159 Devolution of control 159 Economies of scale 160 Courtaulds' structure 163 Knight's response 163 Chairman of Courtaulds Textiles plc 1990 - 93 and 1993 - 1995 164 Weakening trading conditions 164 The breakdown of vertical trading 165 Multidivisional control 165 Main board retains vital powers but devolution proceeds 166 Central aspects of control 167 Specific circumstances in textiles 168 Courtaulds Textiles formed 1985 168 Courtaulds recognises the global threat 169 Courtaulds, M&S and CTG 2000 170 Demerger 171 Results under Kearton's successors 172 Perspectives 173 6 Employment, Labour and Industrial Relations 174 Background 174 Early trade unions 174 Trade unionism in the factories 175 Between the World Wars 175 The rise and fall of trade unionism from the 1960s 176 Decline looms 176 Flexibility, new technology and strikes 177 Rise and decline in employment 178 NUHKW merges to become KFAT 180 Occupations and gender specific work 182 The NUHKW and gender 188 Systems of piecework and rate setting 188 Traditional negotiated piecerates 188 Straight proportional measured work 189 Measured day-work 190 Gender and payment 191 Teamwork and quick response 193 Rate fixing problems 195 Benefits and working conditions 197 Physical working conditions 198 The impact of health and safety legislation 199 Courtaulds' employer representation and wage bargaining 200 Staff salaries 202 Staff and worker relations 202 Recruitment and training 203 Sweatshops and low-wage competition 205 Outworkers and part timers 206 Management and technical staff 208 Courtaulds' management void 208 Background of the chairmen 211 Continuity of top management 211 The value of effective middle management 213 Professional staff 214 Technical training 214 Designers 214 Human resources management 215 Career progress 216 Notes to Chapter 6 217 7 Changing Markets 220 Courtaulds in the supply chain 220 The wholesale trade 221 Courtaulds and the wholesale distributors 222 Wholesaling - a problem for Courtaulds 223 Direct to retail 224 The relationship with Marks & Spencer 224 Decline by sector 225 Fine-gauge hosiery manufacturing in decline 226 Knitwear manufacturing in decline 229 Knitted underwear manufacturing in decline 232 Sock manufacturing in decline 234 8 The Changing Supply Chain 237 Government policy and labour shortages 237 The Geography of Courtaulds' hosiery and knitwear factories in the UK 238 Courtaulds did not influence the geographic spread 240 The industry manages decline 241 Small firms, multi-location firms and conglomerates 241 Employment in the regions 242 Liberalisation of world trade and globalisation 243 The Multi-Fibre Arrangement 243 Low-cost competition 244 The industry's response 247 UK brand operator direct to retail 247 UK based multinational contract supplier 247 Supply chains 248 Traditional supply chain 248 The UK brand operator 'direct to retail' 249 The UK based multinational contract supplier 249 Cluster groupings 250 UK cluster chart 251 Knitting machine industry 251 Clear advantage on the demand side 252 Upstream industries 253 Specialist suppliers 254 Dyeing and finishing 254 High Street and multiple retail outlets cluster 255 Warehousing and distribution 255 Perspectives 255 9 Courtaulds Textiles plc 1990 - 2000 256 Problems from the 1980s 256 The prospects for the industry 258 Confidence in M&S 258 Demerger 1990 260 Management - The main board 262 Structure of Courtaulds Textiles plc 263 Continuing decline 263 Noel Jervis as chief executive under Christopher Hogg 264 The final decline 266 European mainland expansion 267 Colin Dyer as Chief Executive 269 Claremont 270 Courtaulds Textiles plc in disarray 271 Takeover bid 271 Sara Lee gains control 272 Post script 273 New Policy under Brenda C. Barnes 274 10 Epilogue 275 Leadership and Corporate Governance 276 Organisation and Structure 280 Organisation under Kearton's successors 281 Scale and Scope 282 Wholesaling in Courtaulds' supply chain 284 Globalisation and the supply chain 284 Changing fashions 286 Technology 287 Courtaulds and Marks & Spencer 288 Management Education 290 Industrial relations and gender 291 Courtaulds Textiles plc loses its corporate identity 293 Perspectives 294 Decline of the UK hosiery and knitwear industry 294 Corporate decline of Courtaulds Textiles plc 295 APPENDICES Appendix 1 297 The Mansfield Hosiery strike 297 Appendix 2 299 Trade organisations, Directories etc. 299 Sources and Bibliography 301 Index 307

About the Author

Bramwell Rudd has spent most of his working life in the manufacturing sector, the majority of this in clothing manufacturing. He practiced organisation and method study for ten years followed by twenty years in production management in Courtaulds Ltd and Courtaulds Textiles plc. He later studied politics at the University of Leicester followed by studies at the University of Nottingham School of History and Department of International Business History. Much of the research for his thesis, for which he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, is incorporated in this book.

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