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The thin end of the Wedgwood; 2700 jobs at risk as china firm collapse.

ADMINISTRATORS were battling yesterday to find a buyer for historic crystal and china maker Waterford Wedgwood.

The collapse of the ailing firm put 2700 jobs at risk.

The group are best known for Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Waterford crystal brands.

Waterford, who can trace their origins back 250 years, collapsed after talks over a possible sale to a US private equity firm failed and lenders' patience ran out.

Administrators Deloitte said a restructuring of the firm could not be achieved "in an acceptable timescale" as trading deteriorated.

Administrator Angus Martin said: "Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton are classic brands that represent a high-quality product steeped in history.

"The team will be working closely with management, customers and suppliers to ensure operations continue while a sale of the business is sought."

The company will continue to trade as a going concern and chief executive David Sculley is "optimistic" a buyer can be found - but question marks now hang over the UK and Irish staff.

The UK business employ about 1900 retailing and manufacturing staff, including 600 at their manufacturing base in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.

The Irish arm have around 800 staff based in Waterford.

Non-executive chairman Sir Anthony O'Reilly added: "We are consoled only by the fact that everything could have been done, by management and by the board, to preserve the group was done."

The collapse comes despite repeated attempts to revive the business by majority owners O'Reilly and Peter John Goulandris.

As well as axeing thousands of jobs, Waterford have launched new products in a bid to increase the appeal of their luxury goods.

They signed up stars such as chef Gordon Ramsay and designer Sir Terence Conran to launch more modern lines.

Wedgwood were founded in 1759 in Stoke-on-Trent by Josiah Wedgwood, while crystal makers Waterford were set up in 1783 by brothers William and George Penrose. The firms merged in 1986.


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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 6, 2009
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