Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Deal to save 1,400 Wedgwood jobs

Wedgewood cup and saucer
Waterford Wedgewood had debts of 400m when it collapsed

Waterford Wedgwood, now owned by a US private equity firm, has said almost 1,400 jobs in the UK will be saved.

KPS Capital Partners on Thursday sealed the deal to buy the iconic but debt-laden company, which makes Wedgwood pottery and Waterford crystal.

About 1,396 jobs will be saved in the new company, known as WWRD Holdings, administrators Deloitte said.

The company, founded in 1759, went into administration in January and KPS Capital agreed to buy it this month.

Irish jobs

The KPS Capital deal also means 100 jobs have been saved at Waterford Crystal in the Irish Republic.

[This presents] a significant opportunity to consolidate the industry worldwide
Pierre de Villemejane, new chief executive

A seven-week protest at the Waterford Crystal visitor centre ended on Sunday after a meeting of workers and former employees.

The company was created in 1987 when Wedgwood merged with the well-known Irish brand Waterford Crystal.

Waterford Wedgwood, which has been badly hit by the economic slowdown, had debts of about £400m when it went into administration.

It also had a hole in its pension fund of more than £2m.

Wedgwood's popularity has declined in recent years, but it does still have its fans, notably in the US, where many cities boast Wedgwood appreciation societies.

'Opportunity'

"We believe that our primary competitors are generally undercapitalised and regionally focused, presenting a significant opportunity to consolidate the industry worldwide," said Pierre de Villemejane, the new chief executive of WWRD Holdings.

The firm had employed 1,900 staff in the UK and 600 at its factory in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, but announced 367 redundancies in January.

The firm had previously employed 5,800 people, including its largest manufacturing centre in Indonesia, where they produce between five and seven million pieces of tableware every year.

WWRD Holdings says it now employs 3,700 in total.



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