Friday, January 9, 2009

Waterford and Wedgwood in Receivership

Most of you have probably heard by know that Waterford Wedgwood PLC is now in receivership. In November I wrote about Spode's financial troubles and it now appears that Waterford/Wedgwood are going through similar difficulties.

There are a number of potential buyers in the works for Waterford Wedgwood, but this still doesn't really answer the question of what will happen to this historic company once it has been split into pieces and sold to the highest bidder.

It's a real shame that so many historic businesses have been hard hit by the financial crisis. Of course, part of the problem is that many of them have sacrificed the quality of their products and left their customers feeling betrayed. While this may save on costs in the short-term, luxury brands simply cannot afford to sully their reputations by cutting corners with their products. I don't think this has necessarily been the problem with Waterford, which has apparently refused to outsource their production to Indonesia (could this perhaps be a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario).

While both Waterford and Wedgwood have existed since the 17th century, the marriage of the two occurred in 1986, when Waterford purchased Wedgwood.

In spite of all this doom, there is a bit of cheery news. According to the New York Times this is not the first time that Waterford has been water. Apparently Waterford was forced to close its doors for more than 100 years in 1851 when rising taxes made the business unprofitable. Perhaps these companies will emerge, stronger than ever, once the economy turns around. Let's hope so.


Hels said...

Hi Margaret,
many thanks for your post. I have referred to your information in my own discussion on C19th porcelain, carefully citing your blog. And I will continue to watch what happens to these old and venerable companies.

Helen Webberley

acornmoon said...

It's strange but when I heard first heard of this news I thought of you! It seems that there may be a buyer but will they save the jobs at the Barlaston site?

I went to visit the design studio called "The round house" last year. The journey took me through the beautiful, rural parkland of the Wedgwood estate.

Time will tell I suppose.

Margaret said...

--Thank you for citing my blog, Hels!

--I certainly hope that they will figure out a way to save people's jobs, Acornmoon. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

Vivian said...

It tugs at the heart when institutions we thought were permanent start to crumble in their foundations. My family bought me Waterford crystal over my first years of marriage. It is precious!

Margaret said...

I know. I feel the same way, Vivian.

Anonymous said...

hia Margaret. yes it is sad news. The latest I heard was that a possible buyer had been found. I hope the company stays in their current locations as so much of the pottery is going from Stoke- about 1-2 hours South of here.

I warned a friend about the awful Spode (she looks out for me and got me a teapot in a charity shop and I get her 1930s green striped dinnerware when I see it). I'll quote her:

"I went in to Camp Hopson in Newbury and they had some Spode made in china and malaysia the quality of print was not good it looked screen printed (good screen but screen) and on some large square dishes the print was not square they weren't marked as seconds."

This is from a lady who has collected china all her life. I really really hope that Wedgewood stays in Stoke. They are skilled workers who once the factories are shut, will be very hard to replace. The industry could be gone from the area forever with no one learning the skills.