Farewell Ireland! Waterford Without Waterford Crystal?
Waterford crystal, the iconic line of Irish crystal glassware, is aptly named after the area in which it is produced - Co. Waterford, Ireland.
But it looks like the product may soon have to be renamed "Indonesia crystal."
Waterford Wedgewood PLC, which sells Ireland's Waterford crystal and England's Wedgwood china, is in advanced talks to sell a controlling stake to a U.S. private equity fund for around $846 million and assumed debt, three people involved in the negotiations revealed. The three people spoke on condition of anonymity, and would not identify the fund.
Like all fine china makers, Waterford Wedgwood has long struggled in the market due to fading of formal dining trends. Rising energy costs, shrinking sales and the falling U.S. dollar resulted in the company losing $107.2 million in the six-month period ending Oct. 4.
Six years of losses has already driven Wedgwood to move its major ceramic production to Jakarta, Indonesia over the past two years, resulting in the loss of 1,500 jobs in England.
Half of Waterford's crystal production has already been transferred to Eastern Europe in the last year, cutting 1,400 jobs in Ireland.
Now, though Waterford crystal and Wedgwood china have been made in Ireland and England for close to 250 years, the potential new owners of Waterford Wedgwood are looking to transfer the entire company's management and headquarters to Indonesia, one of the sources revealed.
The $50 million move will cut manufacturing costs in half, said Tony O'Reilly Jr., whose family is one of two that own a majority stake in Waterford Wedgwood. Indonesians, who have already taken up positions as managers, designers and more at factories, can produce 10 million pieces of china a year, and only require an average monthly salary of approximately $150.
A small number of high-end Wedgwood products will still be manufactured in England.
Otherwise, expect to see all your Waterford and Wedgwood packages stamped with "Made in Indonesia."
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