Waterford Wedgwood PLC Enters Bankruptcy

One of the world’s premier luxury china and crystal makers, Waterford Wedgwood PLC, has filed for bankruptcy protection when they failed to successfully restructure or find a buyer for the company. The business advisory firm Deloitte was called in to administer the company. Waterford Wedgwood has nearly 8000 employees around the world, most of them in manufacturing facilities in Asia and Eastern Europe. The bankruptcy administrators promise to keep the business in operation until the company is sold.

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Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton, all of which are affected by the bankruptcy, are classic brands of fine china and crystal that have been around for two and a half centuries. Wedgwood began making pottery in England in 1759 and began making fine china about 100 years later. Waterford opened their first factory in Ireland in 1783 although problems in Ireland caused the business to fail in the 1850’s. The brand was brought back in 1947 by Miroslav Havel, a Czech immigrant. In 1986 Waterford acquired Wedgwood and began moving more and more operations to Asia and Eastern Europe in search of cheap labor. In 2005, they added Royal Doulton, the renown ceramics company, to their line up.

Like many companies, Waterford Wedgwood PLC found themselves taking on substantial debt to fund their expansion and acquisition efforts. Now, with today’s credit crunch and recession, which has blunted the demand for high end luxury goods, the company is facing considerable financial difficulty. The company failed to find a buyer while seeking a forbearance from its chief creditors and this led to the bankruptcy.

With the bankruptcy and the uncertainty of where the company will go in the future this creates an opportunity for Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton collectors, both from a buying and selling perspective. It is certain that patterns that aren’t selling well will be struck from the the product line. This should create a brisk used and ‘new old stock’ in these designs. If you’re needing a replacement piece of china or glassware you probably want to seek it out now to avoid price increases due to demand. If you’re selling, it may be a good time to cash in but there may be some advantage to holding if scarcity increases the demand for hard to find pieces.

At any rate, I hope that Waterford Wedgwood PLC is able to continue operations and find a suitable buyer. It would be a shame for us to lose one of the classic makers of fine china and crystal.

 


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9 Comments »

Comment by Ari Lestariono
2009-01-06 05:21:53

Bankruptcy sucks, but that’s life you have to face it.

 
Comment by Nicole Price
2009-01-06 11:01:31

Yes indeed. I am sure that someone with more management capability will grab the goodwill and brand and turn the company around. It is too good an opportunity to let go.

 
Comment by Atniz
2009-01-09 04:18:02

Such a bad news in the early 09. I pray for those who lost their job to get a job soon.

 
Comment by Feliway
2009-01-10 10:52:35

I took a tour there in 2003 when I went to Ireland. It was pretty interesting to see how they made everything, and of course you have the opportunity to buy buy buy. I skipped that part — was already travelling with too much stuff and fully expected anything bought to be smashed in transit. :)

 
Comment by Judit
2009-01-11 08:20:48

That is very bad news, but i am sure it had to go that way, and hopefully the solution for problem will come soon .

 
Comment by Australia News
2009-01-11 23:36:57

Wow I am genuinely shocked - I love both Waterford and Wedgwood - I hadn’t realised that Waterford Wedgwood PLC owned both Waterford and Wedgwood- there you go. I have my mother’s Wedgwood dinner service from the early 1960s and its lovely - and I still use it - maybe Ishould get onto ebay and see if I can find some of the missing pieces before wedgewood becomes hard to find

 
2009-01-23 09:01:00

We are happy to report that Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton are not going out of business. Waterford Wedgwood Plc, the parent organization of Waterford Wedgwood USA and Royal Doulton USA are currently working to restructure the business and have entered into a letter of intent with KPS Capital Partners LP, a New York-based private equity limited partnership. The US companies are not in bankruptcy and are operating as business as usual. The US warehouse is stocked well with popular product and brides can continue to register as all registrations will be honored. In addition, 2009 is the 250th anniversary of Wedgwood and we have great events planned all throughout the year. Visit http://www.wedgwoodusa.com/250th to read more and use promo code WEDG250 to get free shipping on any order of $100 or more through 3/31/09.

 
Comment by Karine
2009-02-02 06:51:23

Yes, this is bad news indeed. However I hope everything can be still changed to good and there is a way out.

 
Comment by Breakfast Nook
2009-02-19 19:33:42

I just started doing research into glass and glass companies for a new site. This is the second time in almost as many days that I find word of a glass company facing dire straights. The first company was Blenko Glass. They’re relatively famous for their hand-blown glass and have a strong collectors base. Too bad for both companies.

 
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