By the 19th century, Paisley, in Renfrewshire, Scotland, had established itself as a centre of the weaving industry and in the 19th century the town dominated the world thread market.
In 1850 Peter Kerr set up a cotton thread manufacturing company in the town at Underwood Mills.
In 1881 Kerr & Co. established a small thread factory in Fall River, Massachusetts in the United States. At this time sewing machine sales were expanding and consequently the market for thread on spools was also getting larger, and Kerr & Co. was competing with numerous American threadmakers and a number of British companies exporting to the US.
The business was incorporated as a limited company, becoming Kerr & Co. Ltd. in 1888.
J. & P. Coats Ltd. was the dominant thread company in Scotland at this time, and in 1895 a number of smaller thread companies, including Kerr & Co. Ltd., were amalgamated into the Coats group.
In 1940 J. & P. Coats Ltd. was appointed as Kerr’s agent for trade mark purposes. In 2002 Kerr & Co. Ltd. was still active, with the company headquarters situated at Wellington Street, Glasgow.