James Sugden has spent over 50 years in the textile trade, starting his career off in the yarn store of Rock Mills, Brockholes, part of Huddersfield Fine Worsteds, and working for his father. After university at Cambridge, reading economics and obtaining an MA, and a night school at Huddersfield College of Technology (gaining an LTI), he was trained by Allied Textile Companies in all aspects of woollen and worsted manufacturing before joining Whiteheads of Bradford where he was responsible for building up sales of knitting yarns in this hitherto specialist mill in weaving yarns. After 7 years he joined M P Stonehouse of Wakefield, the leading worsted spinner in the UK of carpet and rug yarns, which in 1987 was sold to Readicut International PLC as a profitable and prosperous business. In the same year James joined the board of Johnstons of Elgin where for there past 26 years he was Managing Director. James retired from the board in December 2013 and has revived the T & H Blamires name to act as a catalyst to help other textile businesses with both technical and commercial advice. His experience of fine woollens and cashmere is considerable; in the period 1990-2010 the scope of Johnston of Elgin’s business grew from £5.0m to £50.0m at a time when the lifting of the Multi Fibre Agreement (restricting imports to the UK) caused major cutbacks in UK textile manufacture.
Currently James is a non-executive director of the UK based cashmere company Brora, and also the international food company Baxters of Speyside. His consultancy arm has projects involved with improving manufacturing capacity in the UK textile industry, covering spinning, dyeing, weaving and knitting, and in conjunction with the retail consultancy Crimson Retail, he is involved with helping branded companies to expand their businesses both in the UK and globally. Of particular interest is the Chinese market, where James’ experience in this market over 25 years of visiting factories has proved beneficial to companies seeking to build closer ties with this important geographical area. Hist daughter Emily Woodward, founder of Crimson Retail, and a fluent mandarin speaker works closely with James on various projects. T & H Blamires is a vehicle to widen the scope of UK manufacturing in both weaving and knitting at a time when there is a resurgence of manufacturing in the UK.
T & H Blamires was founded in 1866 in Huddersfield by the great, great grandfather of James Sugden, who has now revived the name. The mills, Phoenix Mills, Leeds Road, Huddersfield, specialised in the spinning and weaving of fine woollens. Joseph Blamires had 3 daughters, the eldest of whom, Emma, was the grandmother of James Sugden. With no male succession in the family, and the reduction in the demand for woollen spun flannel, the business was wound up in 1961 and capital returned to the shareholders.The mills today are still in use as a woollen spinning plant. 50 years on, the names of Blamires is still recalled in Huddersfield and textile circles, and James Sugden is proud to revive this long standing brand.
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