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Coats appoints former GKN Aerospace chief as new CEO of one of London's most historic listed firms

Coats is one of London’s oldest listed companies (Maria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Coats is one of London’s oldest listed companies (Maria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

One of the London Stock Exchange’s most historic firms revealed the identity of its next chief executive today.

Coats, which makes industrial thread and dates back to the 1750s, has appointed David Paja to take over in the top job from company veteran Rajiv Sharma.

Paja will join the board of the FTSE 250 constituent in September, becoming CEO a month later. Sharma will “remain available” to the company until the end of the year.

Coats’ new CEO held the same job at GKN Aerospace until recently. Coats said today that while he was there, Paja “played a major role in the successful turnaround of the business and delivery of profitable growth”.

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He previously worked in senior roles at Honeywell, Aptiv and Valeo.

Coats is now famed for its high-performance materials used in a range of clothing. It first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1890, when its innovative cotton and threads and yarns were used all over the globe.

By the early 1900s, it had become one of the most valuable companies in the world and it is seen by some historians as one of the first truly multinational firms, exporting from its mechanised Ferguslie mill in Paisley in Scotland.

It delisted from the stock exchange in 2003, when it was acquired by Guinness Peat PLC, before returning to life as a publicly traded company in 2015.

Sharma, who spent 8 of his 14 years at Coats as CEO, said it was “a privilege to lead” the firm, adding: “I congratulate David Paja on his appointment as the next Group Chief Executive and wish him and the team every success."

Paja said: I am very excited about taking up the Group Chief Executive role, the growth prospects for Coats and what we can achieve over the medium-term given the strong starting position.”

Coats shares ticked up 1p to 86p.