Free Spirit Fabrics and Westminster Fibers being shut down by parent company Coats

Posted by Lidia Corey on 2/13/2018 to News

Here is an update!

JAFTEX CORPORATION ANNOUNCES INTENT TO PURCHASE FREESPIRIT FABRICS
(Charlotte, NC) Today, the Jaftex Corporation, a fourth generation, family-owned textile company, announced its intent to acquire FreeSpirit Fabrics. The acquisition would expand on Jaftex’s portfolio that currently includes Henry Glass Fabrics, Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp., Fabric Editions and A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. 

The plan under the ownership of Robert, Greg and Scott Fortunoff is to ensure minimal disruption to the marketplace in terms of FreeSpirit’s current distribution and introduction of new lines. The “new” FreeSpirit will have a full presence at the Spring International Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon including artists Tula Pink and a premier schoolhouse by Anna Marie Horner and her new conservatory program.

“We are ecstatic to carry on the premier FreeSpirit brand,” said Scott Fortunoff (4th generation.) “Our intention is to maintain the ethos of the brand and its portfolio of well-recognized designers as well as the majority of the internal FreeSpirit team. We will continue to move forward with all of the existing marketing and sales efforts. We look forward to serving all of our retail partners with all of our brands, including FreeSpirit, for many years to come.”

Established in 2000, FreeSpirit brought vibrant, bold and large-scale designs from world-renowned licensed artists whose personalities equaled the brilliance of their fabric. Coats purchased the brand in 2007. Today, the global portfolio of artists includes the Kaffe Fassett Collective, Tula Pink, Anna Maria Horner, The Original Morris & Co., Dena Designs, Snow Leopard Studios, Jennifer Paganelli, Heather Bailey and many more talented artists.

“We could not be more thrilled to be working with a company that has a true entrepreneurial spirit,” said Kaffe Fassett. “We move forward, grateful that the Fortunoff family recognizes the excellence of our brand.”

“Uniquely, this acquisition brings us a proven brand with a plethora of well-loved designers. We look forward to bringing this together with minimal disruption to the retailers’ inventory of their favorite designer’s fabrics,” said Greg Fortunoff.

About FreeSpirit:
FreeSpirit is one brand under Westminster Fibers, Inc., which is part of Coats. It is one of the leading suppliers of high quality quilting fabrics and well known in the textile industry for its creative and unique fabric designs as well as talented and trend-setting artists. FreeSpirit offers retail stores some of the finest fabrics in the market that inspire sewing creativity and speaks to a new generation of sewing enthusiasts.

About Jaftex Corporation:
Jaftex Corporation is an 88 year-old, 4th generation, family owned business, based out of New York City. Jaftex has several well-known brands under its umbrella that include A.E. Nathan Co., Inc., Henry Glass Fabrics, Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. & Fabric Editions. All of the companies under the Jaftex umbrella were acquired over the last 25 years.

About Coats: 
Coats is the world’s leading industrial thread manufacturer and a major player in the Americas textile crafts market. At home in some 60 countries, Coats employs 19,000 people across six continents. 

Coats’ pioneering history and innovative culture ensure the company leads the way around the world: providing complementary and value-added products and services to the apparel and footwear industries; applying innovative techniques to develop high technology Performance Materials threads and yarns in areas such as automotive, composites and fibre optics; and extending the crafts offer into new markets and online. 

Headquartered in the UK, Coats is a FTSE 250 listed company on the London Stock Exchange. 

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February 26, 2018
Contact:

FreeSpirit:  
Nancy L. Jewell, nancy.jewell@westminsterfibers.com, (704) 329-5031

Jaftex:
Scott Fortunoff, scott@jaftex.com, 800-294-9495 x218.





The fabric and quilting industry was shocked today when it learned that Free Spirit Fabrics & Westminster Fibers will be shuttered by parent company Coats, Inc.  A letter was sent to designers today by new CEO Stephanie Leichtweis and detailed the stunning restructuring plan.  One part of the letter stated:  “We have worked diligently for the past few years to make this a successful part of the Coats Craft business here in North America.  But I am sorry to say that, despite our best efforts, we have continued to struggle with an inherent weakness in the business model and have not been able to demonstrate a profit.”

The letter also stated, “We will not be producing new Westminster or FreeSpirit Fabrics from today onwards.”  All collections that are scheduled for delivery prior to May 31 will be shipped as scheduled.

We are deeply saddened by this news and leaves a large hole in the fabric and quilting business.  We are confident that the talented designers such as Tula Pink, Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler and others will be picked up by another manufacturer and we'll see their amazing work continue to get produced.

We currently have Tula Pink All Stars and Tula Pink De La Luna on order.  All Stars is due to ship next month and will ship on schedule.  De La Luna is scheduled to ship at the end of May however if anything changes, we will be sure to communicate any updates.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding any open orders or about the news, please don't hesitate to contact us!

The full excerpt of the letter is as follows:

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I wanted to make you aware that we are going to exit our Lifestyle Fabrics business.  This will take effect from Tuesday 1 May and includes our Westminster Fabrics/ Fibers, FreeSpirit brand and designers.

We have worked diligently for the past few years to make this a successful part of the Coats Craft business here in North America.  But I am sorry to say that, despite our best efforts, we have continued to struggle with an inherent weakness in the business model and have not been able to demonstrate a profit.

It also means we will be moving invoicing and customer service functions supporting the thread and yarn businesses from Greer, South Carolina to our Albany and Charlotte offices in North Carolina.  You will be provided with new contact details for this shortly and in the meantime your contact details for this will remain the same. 

We will continue to fulfil orders placed to date for delivery prior to Thursday 31 May and new orders for existing collections on a first come first service basis. We will not be producing new Westminster or FreeSpirit Fabrics from today onwards.

Coats is particularly proud of its long association supporting our customers and North America based crafters and alternative options have been considered extremely carefully.  We believe that through making these difficult decisions we will create an improved customer focused business for the future, from which you will benefit, and I hope you will continue to work with us. 

It is our intent to support you, our talented and dedicated artist, during this transition. 

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Leichtweis

President, North American Crafts

Cc: Keith Howard

Comments

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Diana Faulkner
Date: 2/13/2018
Keep the fabric and get rid of the Coats & Clark thread it has turned to junk years ago.
Mary Zinnanti
Date: 2/14/2018
I’m shocked at what has happened to you! I am a consumer and heard it from Studio Kat just now. I’m so very sorry and sending you all a great big hug. I know you all will come out even better than before! Hang in there, better days are right around the corner! I will not be buying anything from them anymore! Anyone who does this awful and sneaky move, doesn’t deserve a penny of my money! Never again! Hugs to everyone in your tribe! ????????????
Cheryl Joy Seely
Date: 2/21/2018
I am deeply saddened by this terrible news regarding the. Free Spirit fabrics closure.

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