But he was optimistic that a buyer could be found for the Waterford, Ireland-based business, known for its Wedgwood pottery, Royal Doulton and Waterford crystal.
In the UK, Waterford Wedgwood employs 1,900 people - of these, around 600 work in manufacturing at Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.
The Irish section has around 800 staff based in Waterford.
In total there are 5,800 employees outside the UK with the biggest manufacturing centre being in Indonesia, where there are 1500 staff involved in production.
Wedgwood has been known as an iconic name in British pottery firm for 250 years, with many households in the UK owning one or more of their pieces.
In 1987 it merged with the similarly well-known Waterford Crystal to create Waterford Wedgwood, an Irish-based luxury brands group.
But BBC business editor Robert Peston has said it is "no surprise" that the heavily indebted firm has floundered.
Sir Arthur Bryan demonstrates the toughness of china inside Wedgwood's factory in 1968
"Waterford Wedgwood's collapse is a resonant event, that speaks of a noxious global squeeze on consumer spending," he said.
"Almost everything that it manufactures is a nice-to-have rather than a must-have.
"And most of us are thinking twice about shelling out on nice-to-haves."
Mr Peston said that although Waterford Wedgwood had more history than most FTSE 100 companies combined, it was not a huge company.
"The brands will surely survive under new owners," added our business editor.
"However what happens to its manufacturing plant - and that of many other companies like it - is what matters.
The firm will continue to trade as normal
"Even if in Waterford Wedgwood's case there are just a few hundred British manufacturing jobs at stake, the UK can ill afford to see precious exporting capacity relocated to low-cost, competitor economies. "
Wedgwood is one of the biggest employers in the Stoke area, said Kevin Farrell, chief executive of the British Ceramic Confederation.
"There have been specific problems in the premium dinnerware market and Wedgwood has not been immune from those problems.
"And we've had the period of the credit crunch where really the willingness of people to go out and buy premium dinnerware has been more limited."
Waterford Wedgwood said it had been focused for some time on the recapitalisation of the company, and, more recently, "on active discussions regarding the possible investment in the company as a going concern".
But the group collapsed after talks over a possible investment in the business failed and potential lenders' patience ran out.
Sir Anthony O'Reilly, non-executive chairman of Waterford Wedgwood, said the board had "acted tirelessly in its efforts to resolve the company's issues as a going concern".
"The principal shareholders have invested in support of this business for almost 20 years. We are consoled only by the fact that everything that could have been done, by management and by the board, to preserve the group, was done."
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