These wedding gift staples of the past aren’t looking too solid for the future.
AP: Waterford Wedgwood PLC, the maker of classic china and crystal, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday after attempts to restructure the struggling business or find a buyer failed.
Four administrators from business advisory firm Deloitte were appointed to run the company’s businesses in Britain and Northern Ireland, while a Deloitte partner in the Irish Republic was appointed as receiver of Waterford Wedgwood PLC, the ultimate parent of the U.K. companies, and other Irish subsidiaries.
The U.K. joint administrators said they intended to continue to run the business as they seek a buyer. Trading in the company’s shares was suspended on the Irish Stock Exchange where they languished at just one-tenth of a euro cent.
“Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton are quintessentially classic brands that represent a high quality product which is steeped in history,” the administrators said in a statement. “The administration team will be working closely with management, customers and suppliers during this time to ensure operations continue whilst a sale of the business is sought.”
Waterford Wedgwood, which employs around 7,700 worldwide, is the latest in a burgeoning list of iconic British companies to succumb to the global economic slowdown and credit squeeze. Department store veteran Woolworths, the queen’s tailor Hardy Amies, tea and coffee merchant Whittard of Chelsea and fellow ceramics stalwart Royal Worcester and Spode have all filed for bankruptcy protection in recent months.
Wedgwood has been an iconic name in British pottery for 250 years, after its founder Josiah Wedgwood opened the first factory in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, in 1759. It began making bone china in the 19th century.
Waterford Crystal traces its lineage to a factory opened in Waterford, southeast Ireland in 1783, although that business failed in the 1850s. The brand was revived by Czech immigrant Miroslav Havel in 1947.
…..The company employs a work force just a third of that size at 1,900 in Britain, including around 600 in Stoke-on-Trent and 800 in Waterford.
Waterford Mayor Jack Walsh said the closure of the crystal factory would deal a cultural and psychological blow to all of Ireland, noting that the crystal plant was one of the country’s top tourist attractions and the product “one of only a handful of iconic Irish brands.’
“Given this, it is of major strategic importance that this company not be allowed to slip into oblivion,” Walsh
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Image via Wedgewood.com
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