Hartley Group has its origins in the British textile industry, beginning with
a small woollen mill which enters recorded history in 1532. By the twentieth
century, this and many other mills – out of which Hartley ultimately
emerged – had grown into the Yorkshire textile giant Illingworth Morris.
In the 1980s, the group was one of the world’s biggest wool textiles
manufacturers, and handled almost half the wool imported into the United
Kingdom. The Illingworth Morris group included up-market knitwear maker
Hawico, worsted spinning operations Daniel Illingworth, suiting makers
Huddersfield Fine Worsteds, chemical business Westbrook Lanolin, Woolcombers,
Winterbotham Strachan & Playne (the world’s leading supplier of cloth for tennis balls and billiards
tables), and of course most famously Crombie.
By 1982, the UK textile industry
was struggling, and Illingworth Morris had accumulated large debts. However,
under the chairmanship of Manchester-born
Alan Lewis, Illingworth Morris was turned around, and became profitable
again. The group’s debts were repaid and it became a net lender to
the money market – heralding the formation of Hartley’s investment banking
division, Hartley Investment Trust, in 1983. The group’s textile operations
were gradually divested, and ‘Hartley Group’ refocused its activities
on the following sectors: property and natural resources.
through our subsidiary Hartley Property Group, we provide quality commercial, industrial and
properties not just throughout the UK, but also in Spain and Russia.
Hartley’s natural resource activities range from natural gas in Louisiana,
to timber harvesting in north-west Russia. The group continues to
be a net lender, and actively invests in property deals and environmental
remains proud of its textile roots. In West Yorkshire, several
of our quality business parks are in fact former Illingworth Morris
textile mills – including Globe Worsted, in Slaithwaite, Huddersfield,
is being transformed in cooperation with the local authorities
into an environmental business centre. The group also retains ownership
historic luxury clothing brand Crombie, whose coats are as iconic
today as they were in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Trust & Group has no external debt,
and remains under the chairmanship of Alan J Lewis CBE.