Free Spirit Fabrics will be shut down by parent company Coats.
A letter sent to designers today by Stephanie Leichtweis, who became president of North American Crafts at Coats in October, stated, “We have worked diligently for the past few years to make this a successful part of the Coats Craft business here in North America. But I am sorry to say that, despite our best efforts, we have continued to struggle with an inherent weakness in the business model and have not been able to demonstrate a profit.”
The letter goes on to say, “We will not be producing new Westminster or FreeSpirit Fabrics from today onwards.”
Orders placed to date for delivery prior to May 31 will be fulfilled. It is unclear at this time what will happen to designers who are currently under contract with Free Spirit some of whom are among the biggest names in the quilting industry including Tula Pink, Kaffe Fasset, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, and Denyse Schmidt, among many others. It’s also unclear at this time what will happen to the company employees.
The full text of the letter is below. We will publish more information as it becomes available.
I wanted to make you aware that we are going to exit our Lifestyle Fabrics business. This will take effect from Tuesday 1 May and includes our Westminster Fabrics/ Fibers, FreeSpirit brand and designers.
We have worked diligently for the past few years to make this a successful part of the Coats Craft business here in North America. But I am sorry to say that, despite our best efforts, we have continued to struggle with an inherent weakness in the business model and have not been able to demonstrate a profit.
It also means we will be moving invoicing and customer service functions supporting the thread and yarn businesses from Greer, South Carolina to our Albany and Charlotte offices in North Carolina. You will be provided with new contact details for this shortly and in the meantime your contact details for this will remain the same.
We will continue to fulfil orders placed to date for delivery prior to Thursday 31 May and new orders for existing collections on a first come first service basis. We will not be producing new Westminster or FreeSpirit Fabrics from today onwards.
Coats is particularly proud of its long association supporting our customers and North America based crafters and alternative options have been considered extremely carefully. We believe that through making these difficult decisions we will create an improved customer focused business for the future, from which you will benefit, and I hope you will continue to work with us.
It is our intent to support you, our talented and dedicated artist, during this transition.
President, North American Crafts
Cc: Keith Howard
We’ve done a more in-depth analysis of what might have caused this closure and what it signals for the quilting industry as a whole. Find that article here.