In 1755 James and Patrick Clark began a loom equipment and silk thread business in Paisley, Scotland. 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 Britain at this time, and the Clarks opened the first plant for manufacturing the cotton thread in 1812. In 1864 the Clark family began manufacturing in Newark, New Jersey in the United States, as the Clark Thread Co.
In 1802 James Coats set up a weaving business in Paisley. In 1826 he opened a cotton mill at Ferguslie to produce his own thread and when he retired in 1830, his sons, James and Peter, took control of the company under the title of J. & P. Coats. The firm expanded internationally, particularly in the United States.
In 1952 J. & P. Coats and the Clark Thread Co. merged. A further merger with Patons & Baldwins in 1961 created Coats Patons. In 1986 a merger with Vantona Viyella formed Coats Viyella. In 2015 the company became Coats plc, currently the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of sewing thread and supplies, and the second-largest manufacturer of zips and fasteners after YKK.