Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Crown Derby hit by falling sales

Heritage plate (yellow)
The firm's new dinnerware is aimed at the super-rich

China maker Royal Crown Derby is cutting back production to a four-day week as a result of a drop in demand.

The moves comes days before the firm launches a tableware range in Paris for the wealthy that could cost as much as 1m for a 100-person setting.

Work at the Osmaston Road site in Derby will switch to a four-day week on 19 January, a 20% drop in production.

One of the firm's largest retailers, Waterford Wedgwood, went into administration in early January.

Lavish tableware

"The worldwide credit crunch has hit demand in all areas and has obviously had an effect on Royal Crown Derby," company spokesman Simon Willis said.

The firm employs 220 people at its Derby site, 148 of these are production staff.

"This will only be a temporary measure and will put us in a strong position to quickly react to any upturn in the market when it comes," Mr Willis said.

Royal Crown Derby has produced English fine bone china in Derby since 1750. It has just announced the launch of the lavish Heritage tableware selection aimed at wealthy overseas buyers.

The range includes a 3,000 teapot and is aimed at rich customers who want a high-class dinner setting.

Mr Willis said current exchange rates were helping sales in "important overseas markets".

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