Most of the assets of Waterford Wedgwood have been sold to US private equity company KPS Capital for an undisclosed amount. The now-completed deal has been on the cards ever since Waterford Wedgwood went into administration but concerns have persisted over the number and scale of job cuts that may result.
Controversially, KPS has not bought any of Waterford Wedgwood’s assets in Ireland – only the stock. This means that the Waterford factory and its employees are currently standing idle, with redundancy a distinct possibility.
There is some hope that KPS will agree a deal with the Irish government to turn the plant into a modern visitors centre making “artisanal” glassware, but this has not yet been finalised and would depend on substantial investment from the Irish government.
KPS has made no secret of its intention to increase the amount of offshore production – both in Asia and Eastern Europe – meaning that jobs at the former Wedgwood and Royal Doulton factories in the UK could be at risk, too.
KPS says that it plans to “aggressively grow the hell out of it [Waterford Wedgwood]” and that is will now be operated as one efficient company, targeting new overseas markets and large luxury hotel groups such as Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton.
The deal excludes all of the old company’s liabilities so the new Waterford Wedgwood will start with a clean slate. KPS are promising to invest up to €100m in its new acquisition – we’ll have to wait and see how they get on.