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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 20:26 GMT
Doulton to close last UK factory
Royal Doulton's Nile Street factory
Doulton employed about 8,000 people in the Potteries in the '70s
About 500 people are to lose their jobs with the closure of Royal Doulton's last remaining UK factory.

The china maker has confirmed it is selling its Nile Street plant in Stoke-on-Trent to property developers.

It is the end of an era for the Potteries, where Doulton has been a major employer for more than 150 years.

The firm said about 50 people would be found jobs at a new base in Stoke-on-Trent which will make limited edition china.

The 1m factory and visitors' centre is planned for the Festival Park area of the city.

It won't work - people buy (Doulton) because of where it comes from
Mike Wolfe
Stoke-on-Trent's elected mayor

The Nile Street plant, which will shut its doors for good next year, has been bought by property developers St Modwen for 2.5m.

Doulton, which has shifted much of its production to the Far East, said the rest of its manufacturing operation would also be moved overseas.

Mike Wolfe, the city's elected mayor, told BBC Radio Stoke: "I think Doulton's making a very big mistake.

"Doulton's reputation is based upon the fact it's a quality, north Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent-made product.

'Sham' claim

"The public will go on buying for a few years but when they realise they're picking up a piece of Royal Doulton that's made anywhere in the world, people with lose faith.

"It won't work - people buy it because of where it comes from."

Royal Doulton china
Royal Doulton has shifted much of its production to the Far East
Geoffrey Snow, from Stoke-on-Trent stockbrokers Brewin Dolphin, said Doulton decided to get rid of the Nile Street plant some time ago.

"They're selling the property to St Modwen and they're in negotiations with Stoke-on-Trent Regeneration about putting up a centre on the Festival Park site.

"So it's pretty obvious this decision was taken some time ago because you can't just agree to sell the property to St Modwen today, can you?"

Staff at the Nile Street site have said they feel let down by the lack of communication from the management.

Some of them moved to the factory just over a year ago when Royal Doulton's Beswick operation in Longton closed, along with its factory at Baddeley Green.

Communication failure

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Joan Walley said the workforce had been kept in the dark by the management.

"Whatever the criticisms there were of they way the company was run under previous management, at least there was an ability to engage with people so you knew what long-term plans there were.

"And that just isn't there under the present regime."

In its statement, Royal Doulton said it was seeking to reduce overheads.

The statement read: "Approximately 525 manufacturing employees, representing circa 17% of the group's worldwide workforce, will be made redundant in stages prior to mid-2005.

"These supply chain changes are expected to assist the group in restoring profitability by reducing product direct cost further and reducing related production overhead, which will ensure Royal Doulton improves its competitiveness."

Meanwhile, it emerged on Friday that 33 jobs are to go at another Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm.

Aynsley, in Longton, said the "regrettable" losses followed a continued slowdown in the industry.




SEE ALSO:
Ceramics factory decision looms
25 Mar 04  |  Staffordshire
More jobs losses at Doulton
27 Nov 03  |  Staffordshire
Pottery firm 'must improve'
10 Sep 03  |  Staffordshire
Fresh blow for pottery workers
07 Feb 03  |  England
End of an era at Royal Doulton
20 Dec 02  |  Politics
Up to 1,000 ceramics jobs axed
13 Feb 02  |  England


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