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
Introduction – The decline of the British cotton textile industry: A review and reinterpretation David Higgins and Steven Toms
1. Windows of Opportunity in the Textile Industry: The Business Strategies of Lancashire Entrepreneurs, 1880-1914 Steven Toms
2. Producer co-operatives and economic efficiency: Evidence from the nineteenth-century cotton textile industry Steven Toms
3. Financial constraints on economic growth: profits, capital accumulation and the development of the Lancashire cotton-spinning industry, 1885-1914 Steven Toms
4. Firm structure and financial performance: the Lancashire textile industry, c.1884–c.1960 David Higgins and Steven Toms
5. Financial distress, corporate borrowing, and industrial decline: the Lancashire cotton spinning industry, 1918-38 David Higgins and Steven Toms
6. Ownership, financial strategy and performance: the Lancashire cotton textile industry, 1918-1938 David Higgins, Steven Toms and Igor Filatotchev
7. Public Subsidy and Private Divestment: The Lancashire Cotton Textile Industry, c.1950-c.1965 David Higgins and Steven Toms
8. Financial Institutions and Corporate Strategy: David Alliance and the Transformation of British Textiles, c.1950-c.1990 David Higgins and Steven Toms
Epilogue – Survival strategies in textiles David Higgins and Steven Toms