This book examines the decline of the cotton textiles industry, which defined Britain as an industrial nation, from its peak in the late nineteenth century to the state of the industry at the end of the twentieth century. Focusing on the owners and managers of cotton businesses, the authors examine how they mobilised financial resources; their attitudes to industry structure and technology; and their responses to the challenges posed by global markets.
The origins of the problems which forced the industry into decline are not found in any apparent loss of competitiveness during the long nineteenth century but rather in the disastrous reflotation after the First World War. As a consequence of these speculations, rationalisation and restructuring became more difficult at the time when they were most needed, and government intervention led to a series of partial solutions to what became a process of protracted decline.
In the post-1945 period, the authors show how government policy encouraged capital withdrawal rather than encouraging the investment needed for restructuring. The examples of corporate success since the Second World War – such as David Alliance and his Viyella Group – exploited government policy, access to capital markets, and closer relationships with retailers, but were ultimately unable to respond effectively to international competition and the challenges of globalisation. A new introduction and epilogue provide an updated framework for the chapters in this book, which were originally published in Business History and Accounting, Business and Financial History
Table of Contents
Introduction – The decline of the British cotton textile industry: A review and reinterpretation 1. Windows of Opportunity in the Textile Industry: The Business Strategies of Lancashire Entrepreneurs, 1880-1914 2. Producer co-operatives and economic efficiency: Evidence from the nineteenth-century cotton textile industry 3. Financial constraints on economic growth: profits, capital accumulation and the development of the Lancashire cotton-spinning industry, 1885-1914 4. Firm structure and financial performance: the Lancashire textile industry, c.1884–c.1960 5. Financial distress, corporate borrowing, and industrial decline: the Lancashire cotton spinning industry, 1918-38 6. Ownership, financial strategy and performance: the Lancashire cotton textile industry, 1918-1938 7. Public Subsidy and Private Divestment: The Lancashire Cotton Textile Industry, c.1950-c.1965 8. Financial Institutions and Corporate Strategy: David Alliance and the Transformation of British Textiles, c.1950-c.1990 Epilogue – Survival strategies in textiles
David Higgins is Professor in Accounting and Finance at Newcastle University, UK. He has published widely in the field of business history, with particular reference to staple industries, corporate performance, and the protection of intellectual property. He has served on the editorial board, and acted as associate editor, of the journal Business History.
Steven Toms is Professor of Accounting at Leeds University, UK. He has published extensively in the field of business history, focusing on organisations’ accounting and financial performance, with a particular interest in the history of cotton textiles. He is a former editor of the journal Business History and an editorial board member of the Accounting History Review (formerly Accounting, Business and Financial History).