Milliken Woolen Plant Changes Ownership

Twenty years after it was bought by U.S.-based Milliken & Company, the Stroud textile business Milliken Woollen Speciality Products has returned to British ownership. 

The business has been christened WSP Textiles Ltd, with three senior members of the management team joining a new board of directors. 

The acquisition was arranged by Vespa Capital LLP, a private equity firm that helps management teams acquire and develop the businesses they manage.

Commenting on the investment in WSP Textiles, Nigel Hammond of Vespa Capital said: "We are delighted to be investing in a world class, UK based, manufacturer and look forward to supporting the management team in delivering their investment plans. We believe the number of people playing tennis, billiards, and snooker will increase around the world, particularly in Asia, and this will underpin the company's growth prospects."

The original company has made cloth since the 13th century and the WSP acronym recognises the founding mill owners,  Winterbotham, Strachan and Playne.

Today the Strachan brand dominates the snooker market. Playne's tennis ball cloth can be found on Dunlop, Wilson, Head and Babolat tennis balls used at many tournaments including Wimbledon and the French Open. SuperPro tournament billiard cloth is used in major tours and tournaments all over the world including the Seminole Pro Tour in the USA, and German National Championships. It is also endorsed by world champion players such as Daryl Peach and John Schmidt

WSP Textiles is re-branding the tournament quality pool table cloth Strachan SuperPro, and it continues to be available in a range of 8 colours.

Charlotte-based Sterling Gaming has the distribution rights for SuperPro, a nap-free worsted billiard cloth manufactured for the American pool market.

Commenting on the acquisition, Scott Taylor, Sterling's president, said: "We have been given the good news that the new owners plan to invest in their UK operations, where billiard cloth has been made for several centuries.

"SuperPro offers pool players responsive ball-control characteristics, plus the Spillguard treatment, which protects the cloth from liquid spills and stains, and quality and continuity of supply has been assured by the new owners.