Company History

Madeira’s origins date back to 1919, when Burkhardt & Schmidt Garnfabrik was founded in Freiburg, Germany. The company successfully became the first choice for embroiderers due to its strong innovation and quality-oriented leadership.

As international markets beckoned, following the revolution of industrial flatbed embroidery machines, a company name more resonant and fitting to the beautiful threads was sought. Since 1975, the MADEIRA brand has stood for exquisite embroidery and has gained global recognition.

Nowadays, approximately 70% of the threads sold are produced at the headquarters in Germany, using modern and sustainable technologies.

Our Story


Burkhardt & Schmidt was Established

Burkhardt & Schmidt was Established

Established in 1919 under the name Burkhardt & Schmidt Garnfabrik, the company originally produced cotton sewing threads and later went on to produce cotton embroidery threads.

The original dyehouse was near the river in Schopfheim, close to Freiburg. The soft water and high quality raw materials, created beautiful cotton threads, with the brand name ‘TANNE’ the German word for fir tree and the logo ‘BURMIT’ derived from the names Burkhardt and Schmidt.


Move to Freiburg

Move to Freiburg

The beautiful German Black Forest city of Freiburg formed the perfect backdrop when Burkhardt and Schmidt moved their factory to Habsburger Strasse.

Rudolf and Herbert Schmidt, sons of the company’s founder, joined the company, with Rudolf focussing on business development and Herbert specialising in the skills to eventually become dye master.

Fashion trends and technology played a part in the introduction of new materials into the textile world and at the end of the 1950’s, Rudi Schmidt decided to create a machine embroidery thread. His vision was to embody the lustre and shine of viscose in a thread for machine embroidery. In order to achieve this, a new kind of thread had to be developed, as at that time viscose was only used in the production of exclusive fabrics.


First 100% pure viscose thread developed

First 100% pure viscose thread developed

The 1960’s was a period of intense research and development at Burkhardt & Schmidt. This led to more investment in technology, machinery and the dyehouse to produce the world’s first commercial rayon viscose embroidery thread. The company named it ‘Madeira No.40’. ‘Madeira’ is Portuguese for ‘wood’, and rayon thread is produced with natural cellulose from wood pulp. Burkhardt & Schmidt was the first manufacturer in the world to successfully launch 100% pure viscose, high quality embroidery thread for the commercial embroidery industry.


Name changed to Madeira Garnfabrik

Name changed to Madeira Garnfabrik

Rudi Schmidt frequently travelled to the island of Madeira where beautiful, vibrant embroidery was produced by hand. The Company’s rayon thread MADEIRA No.40 was by now famous all over the world for its unique softness and ability to run at high speed. Knowing the island of Madeira exported embroidered artworks and creations to Oriental and European dynasties, Rudi decided if ‘Madeira’ was good enough for royalty and high society, it would be the perfect new name for his company, transporting the best quality threads all over the world.


Innovation & Development

Michael and Ulrich Schmidt, twin sons of Rudi Schmidt, joined the company. Together they progressed the business via research, development and investment to pivot the company internationally. As the market grew and changed, so Madeira developed. Gradually more and more threads were created.

Madeira introduced ‘Neon’, the first ever polyester thread to be produced in fluorescent colours. As the range and colourways extended, it was renamed ‘POLYNEON’, for textiles and clothing subjected to high stress or bleach and chlorine.

Madeira developed a range of new products and during the 80’s became a leading manufacturer of high quality embroidery and special effect threads. Various threads including smooth and sparkling metallics and wool mix in varying thicknesses and styles, all with their own distinctive brand names complemented the best-selling rayon MADEIRA 40 and its rayon offspring TOLEDO 60, STICKU 30 & DÉCOR 6 & 12.


Madeira UK was established

Madeira UK was established

Madeira UK was one of the first daughter companies, established in 1983. It is now one of seventeen Madeira companies worldwide, alongside many global agents and distributors.

Surrounded by beautiful countryside near Ripon in North Yorkshire, Madeira UK has the added advantage of being two minutes from the centre of the A1M major trunk road from London to Edinburgh. International airports, major train routes and even docks are around an hour away, so receipt of stock and despatch to customers is always fast and efficient.


Madeira Garne was Established

Alongside Madeira’s industrial plant, Madeira Garne was founded in 1987, concentrating on the market demand for consumers to use smaller spools from the vast, specialised Madeira thread range. People wanted to use the threads at home, not just see them on readymade garments!


Madeira No.40 Becomes Classic

MADEIRA No. 40 was renamed CLASSIC 40 to simplify the coding for the different rayon weights. Sticku became CLASSIC 30, Décor became CLASSIC 12 and the finest thread Toledo was renamed CLASSIC 60.



The Madeira group is a third generation, family owned company with 400 employees around the world and several subsidiaries in Europe, the USA and Asia. An expert in its field, Madeira runs seminars offering technical instruction to improve embroidery quality and has recently accelerated into the technical arena of Conductive Threads alongside its famous decorative range.

Synonymous with colour, style, quality and range, Madeira’s threads are used by commercial brands from mass production to Haute Couture and individual creation, on everything from sports to fashion, homewares to church adornments and are standard for branding, uniforms, corporate logos and promotional items.

Sustainability is key, for Madeira’s people, products and production. Globally recognised standards of ISO 9001, OEKO-TEX, GOTS & RSL ensure Madeira is always at the forefront of market demands.

The Schmidt brothers have modernised, expanded and developed the production site in Freiburg, making Madeira one of the most modern and efficient embroidery thread manufacturing companies in the world, running one of the most high-tech and sustainable thread dyehouses in Germany.

Meet the team

Karen Burrows

UK Managing Director / Sales Director Northern Europe

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Andrew Maylor

Sales Director

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Jayne Barlow

Creative & Technical Manager

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Julia Redfern

Regional Account Manager

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Chris Camm

Regional Account Manager

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Mission Statement

As the leading supplier of embroidery threads and accessories we aim to fulfil all customers’ needs through quality of product and excellence in service combined with technical support and concept development.


If you don’t constantly try to improve, then you cease to be the best. MADEIRA’s corporate philosophy is one of continual improvement. Through the media, we are all aware that every single one of us has accountability for the environment and the legacy of our actions or lack of them. Madeira’s philosophy has always been to take great responsibility for employees, the natural world and eco system, right through from high standards of production with the best of conditions for workers to raw materials from only accredited suppliers – all resulting in the best threads, produced in highest consideration for the environment and the end user.

Code of Conduct

Madeira is a global player in the embroidery thread industry and the choice of market leaders worldwide. This status could only be achieved by our commitment to the BEST BUSINESS ETHICS and the continuous improvement in every part of our business.

Madeira treats its partners in the way Madeira would like to be treated by them. This is with fairness, integrity and mutual respect.

Madeira treats everybody equally, regardless of nationality, race, sex and religion. Madeira will never use any child labour. Madeira will not employ any person below the age of 16 years. Madeira will never use any forced labour, neither prison, indentured, bonded nor otherwise.

No employee of Madeira has to work for more than 45 hours per week. For overtime, public bank holidays, holidays, etc. Madeira will at least meet the legally mandated regulations in the respective countries.

Madeira compensates the employees with at least the minimum wages and does not deduct pay for any disciplinary infractions from employees.

Madeira grants pregnancy or sick leave even where it is not required by the respective countries laws. For all the other benefits, Madeira provides at least all those benefits which are legally mandated in the respective country.

Madeira complies with the highest standards of safety and health regulations to protect its employees.

Production: Madeira’s production processes are completely environmentally friendly. Product: The products of Madeira are in accordance with the highest possible safety regulations and are certified as completely safe for humans. Recycling: Whenever it is possible, whether it is required by law or not, Madeira will recycle all goods produced in an environmentally friendly way.

© Madeira 2022