3 January 2019 by Joshua Doherty

I&G Cohen to be ‘absorbed’ into UK’s largest textiles business

Salford-based textiles recycling firm I&G Cohen is set to be ‘dissolved’ and merged into the UK’s largest textiles business, the Textile Recycling International group.

Papers for the dissolution have been filed with Companies House by parent and holding company Textile Recycling International which acquired the I&G Cohen business in 2017 through its JMP Wilcox textiles business. Unless “cause is shown to the contrary”, the company will be dissolved on January 13 2019.

A series of acquisitions has made Textile Recycling International a major presence in the textiles recycling market

Speaking to letsrecycle.com, Textile Recycling International’s chief executive, Richard Robinson, explained that the firm will effectively be absorbed within the group, but this is only to be the case with I&G Cohen, and not the other companies it has acquired.

I&G Cohen Limited is a longstanding textiles recycling business in the Manchester region and has been at the forefront of textile recycling in the UK since 1959. Founded by Gerald Cohen and his father Israel, the company started in the Chorlton area of Manchester, sorting, baling and delivering rags. As business grew it moved to Salford and developed a network of recycling banks from Manchester to Sheffield. Gerald Cohen was once a president of the Textiles Recycling Association.


Textile Recycling International was formed in September 2016, and in October that year it acquired JMP Wilcox Ltd, before acquiring I&G Cohen Ltd in April 2017 (see letrecycle.com story).

Textile Recycling International has made big strides into the textiles market


It acts as a holding company for JMP Wilcox, which describes itself as the UK’s largest textile recycler and Bag It Up, which focuses on charity textile bank collections. The Bag It Up Group was acquired by Textile Recycling International in August 2017.


Richard Robinson, chief executive of Textile Recycling International

Providing I&G Cohen’s application to be dissolved is approved, it will mean the companies under the Textile Recycling International umbrella include: JMP Wilcox, Bag It Up, Scotland-based Nathan’s Wastesavers and Cookstown Recycling, which is based in Northern Ireland.

When contacted by letsrecycle.com, Richard Robinson, of Textile Recycling International, said: “The companies operating under the TRIL umbrella operate in separate geographies and in separate streams of the supply chain in the reclamation, processing and export of used clothing and shoes.”

Mr Robinson added: “The operations of I&G Cohen have been absorbed within the group and this was a decision specific to the circumstances of that business. TRIL acts as a holding company and each business under its control operates independently as a separate company. Whilst we have no further acquisitions planned at this time as we are happy with the geographical footprint of the group and the opportunities this gives us to offer value added services to our customers and suppliers, we are always open to potential new acquisitions if they open up new locations or sectors of the market.”


Textile Recycling International is owned by Dutch private equity company Waterland Private Equity Investments, which, according to Companies House, became a person(s) of ‘significant control’ of the board at the company in January 2018. The company, which has an office in Manchester, invested in Textile Recycling International in October 2016, but were registered as a person of significant control in January 2018 once annual returns had been filed.

A spokesperson for Waterland said the company had no comment to make on the developments at Textile Recycling International. Waterland has a stake in a number of other companies across Europe – ranging from fitness groups to restaurants – and also owned Dutch recycling firm Attero, which it sold to British company 3i Infrastructure plc and an offshoot of Germany’s Deutsche Bank, DWS, in April 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story).


In terms of tonnages, while the exact figure handled by Textile Recycling International’s member companies is “commercially sensitive”, the holding company through its subsidiaries is now thought to be by far the largest operator in the UK with the volume handled closing on 100,000 tonnes a year.

The throughput includes 12,000 tonnes from the Bag It Up Group; 46,000 tonnes from Wilcox and I&G Cohen; 31,200 tonnes from Nathan’s Wastesavers; and Cookstown says it diverts “thousands of tonnes of textiles from landfill a year”.

The Salvation Army, which was previously the largest operator, says it regularly exports around 34,000 tonnes of textiles for reuse and recycling each year.

The amalgamation of some players in the industry has caused concern among some textile recyclers, who have said the new joined-up company may lead to stiffer competition.

Some others however, have said that a “challenging” textiles recycling market generally is also causing concern.

Trading conditions

Alan Wheeler, director of the Textile Recycling Association, said he was not surprised to see the companies join together, and tipped more of this type of business to occur going forward.

Alan Wheeler, director of the Textile Recycling Association said that consolidation is taking place in the textiles market

“The UK used clothing and textile recycling industry is currently seeing a consolidation of businesses operating in the sector.  I am not surprised to be seeing this,” he explained.

Mr Wheeler added: “Trading conditions in the market have been difficult for some time and there can be significant and advantageous economies of scale if businesses merge in a properly thought-through manner.

“With renewed political and public interest in the used clothing industry and the environmental impact of the global fashion industry, which is huge, I anticipate that we might see more investors moving into this market”.


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