TRI acquires Soex UK textiles recycling business

EXCLUSIVE: The UK’s largest used clothing and textile recycling business – Textile Recycling International – has bought another textiles recycling business, Surrey-based Soex UK Ltd.

Soex has a number of local authority contracts

TRI group has in the past claimed to be the largest textiles recycling business in the UK and the Soex UK deal will cement its pole position. The move follows a series of purchases by TRI of family-owned textile recycling businesses including JMP Wilcox, Cooksdown Textile Recyclers, Nathans Wastesavers and SWD Premier Clothing Exports.

The purchase of SOEX UK on 4 May – from its Germany parent company with a similar name – is seen as confirming the TRI group’s leading position in the recycling of used clothing, shoes and other textiles. Until 2018, the SOEX business in the UK was known as the European Recycling Company.

Collection points

SOEX UK has claimed in the past to have 8,500 collection points. These include local authority, retail, shops and street collection sites across the UK. The clothing and shoes it collected was sent to Germany for sorting but it is thought now that this could now be sorted in the UK by other TRI companies such as JMP Wilcox.

Previously TRI said that it had handled 100,000 tonnes of clothing. It is thought that this tonnage has since increased and that the purchase of SOEX UK could mean it will handle around 130,000 tonnes a year. This is thought to place TRI ahead of the Salvation Army’s textile recycling business, which is believed to be the second largest clothes recycling operation.

Textiles Recycling International chairman and chief executive, Mark Burrows Smith


Commenting on the acquisition of Soex UK, the chief executive and chairman of Textile Recycling International,  Mark Burrows Smith, said: “We are delighted to welcome Andy Haws and our new Soex colleagues to the group. Soex are a well-established and respected operator in the used clothing sector. We look forward to integrating the businesses and further developing a number of Soex’s operations.”


The TRI business is owned by a Netherland’s based private equity firm – Waterland – which also has an office in London. Waterland stepped in the UK textiles sector when it bought the well-known Wolverhampton-based textile business JMP Wilcox in 2016.

Waterland describes the TRI business as “the UK’s leading business in the reclamation, processing and recycling of used clothing and shoes, with a focus on the circular economies.”

On its website – before the Soex acquisition – “Waterland said that TRI collects used clothing and shoes from across the UK and Ireland, processing c.100,000T of material annually, across 4 sorting facilities located in Manchester, The Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland. TRI’s customers are global in nature with a significant focus on Eastern Europe and Africa.”

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