The Times reports that Thomas R. Wedgwood, a direct descendent of Josiah Wedgwood, is putting together a bid to buy back Wedgwood into family ownership.
Apparently, the bid is being backed by Middle Eastern money (when is anything not, these days?) and is due to be submitted this week. It would entail a demerger from Waterford, turning Wedgwood back into an independent company.
The bid sounds attractive – perhaps more attractive than the other known bid from American equity fund KPS Capital, which The Times says apparently left the Wedgwood family “ignited with worry” about the future of the Wedgwood brand and its British employees.
Thomas Wedgwood was until recently Wedgwood’s Asia Director and believes that Asia should be seen as a lucrative potential market, rather than simply a cheap manufacturing base. According to The Times, the latter strategy is a “one-way route to oblivion”. 37% of Wedgwood sales are currently generated in Asia, but Mr. Wedgwood believes this has the potential to rise as high as 60%.
Thomas Wedgwood believes that the company’s products need to become “just inaccessible enough to be aspirational” – turning Wedgwood back into a true luxury brand. It’s an idea that many fans of the company (including me) will probably empathise with but I don’t know how successful it would be.
Time will tell.