Cotton Traders

Cotton Traders Ltd
Type Limited
Industry Retail
Founded 1987
Headquarters Altrincham, Greater Manchester
Key people Steve Smith
Fran Cotton, founders
Products Rugby shirts, Leisurewear, Footwear
Website Official Website

Cotton Traders is a British clothing company, specialising in rugby apparel and leisurewear, based in Altrincham, Greater Manchester, England. It was founded in 1987 by former England national rugby union team captains Fran Cotton and Steve Smith.

Brand history

The company started out in a small room next to Altrincham railway station, supplying rugby shirts via mail order using advertisements in the Sunday newspapers. The business was making an annual turnover of £2million in just two years.

As the company grew, additional ranges were added. These now cover leisurewear and casual clothes for both men and women, footwear, household textiles, and accessories.

The site is now split into three main buildings in Altrincham and a warehouse in Bradford. One building is Cotton Traders House which is responsible for the management of the company, and a call centre further down the road deals with most customer service and the placing of the orders. In 2006, Neptune House, a vacant office building opposite the head office, was purchased. Head office departments are now split between Cotton Traders House and Neptune House.

Today, Cotton Traders generates a turnover in excess of £60 million a year, with approx. 600 employees across the UK and many more employed worldwide by its suppliers. Cotton Traders mail order business now has approximately 1,600,000 customers on its database, and produces 27 different editions of the catalogue each year, resulting in the dispatch of approximately 100,000 parcels a month.

In July 2006, 19 years after its launch, Cotton Traders implemented a new computer system to enhance efficiency of operations covering all aspects of the company. However, the implementation of this computerised system caused a great deal of disruption to the ordering and customer service departments of the company, which now (Jan 2007) is thought to have been overcome. In response to this, the company declared 2007 the 'Year of Service'.

Cotton Traders hit the big screen in February 2010 with the smash hit 'Invictus' starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The film ‘Invictus’ is based on the events of the 1995 Rugby World Cup where South Africa achieved victory with the support of Nelson Mandela. The movie, which is directed by Clint Eastwood, centres on the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela, shortly after becoming president of South Africa, openly supported the team throughout their battle to win the Rugby World Cup championship in 1995. His aim was to use the language of sport to unite his country after many years of oppression. In the film, Nelson Mandela is played by movie veteran Morgan Freeman, whilst the captain of the South African Springboks, Francois Pienaar, is portrayed by Matt Damon.

If you watched closely, you will see the Cotton Traders logo appearing on the South African kits at numerous points during the film. During the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Cotton Traders sponsored England, Wales and South Africa, and the Cotton Traders logo can be seen clearly throughout the film but in particular on the Springboks’ training jerseys and tracksuits.


Cotton Traders supplies jerseys to the following teams:


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