Last week we reported on developments in Germany at the Rosenthal sister plants of Waterford Wedgwood where the Bavarian government is anxious to get state investment.
Over in England at Wedgwood, a bid is being prepared for the receiver that could see more production back in England and less out-sourced in the next year, if successful.
This has brought hope to the community there, an employment blackspot and the UK
Employment Minister is to visit the area. There were 1900 jobs in Wedgwood, according to the BBC, but this is now down by a further 600 in the past year.
The Wedgwood family has promised there will be no more redundancies at Barlaston if their bid to buy the world famous brand is successful. And within a year, they say, they will be taking on more production staff. Tom D Wedgwood and cousin Tom R Wedgwood are talking to investors in Asia, the Middle East and the UK to raise the money they need to buy both Wedgwood and Royal Doulton. Wedgwood dates back to 1759.
The Stoke on Trent newspaper the Sentinel reported this week that if the new owners and Wedgwood family clinch the deal with administrator Deloitte they will call a halt to redundancies at the Barlaston plant. One of the plans is to move all Wedgwood production from Indonesia to Stoke-on-Trent and keep the Indonesian factory to make Royal Doulton china.
It is planned to introduce a training scheme in North Staffordshire to stop unique skills dying out and stop trying to compete with low-cost imports. They will also focus on the Japanese, Chinese and Asian markets because customers there want products made in Stoke-on-Trent.
Tom D Wedgwood, aged 38, said: “Bringing Wedgwood back is clearly a key part of the business plan and there is a very rosy picture for people on the shop floor. There will certainly be no more job losses and over the next year there will be significant job gains.
“People demand a country of origin so you have to bring volume manufacture back to the UK. Indonesia is a good factory and it is a fundamental part of the business plan. It makes good products but Wedgwood has to come back to the UK before it is devalued.”
The cousins were critical of the people at the helm of Irish parent group Waterford Wedgwood. Tom D Wedgwood said: “We have been watching what was clearly the wrong business strategy and outsourcing was a key part of that. They were trying to compete with low-cost imports. Why should we do that?
We should be leading, not following. We are positive we can pull this off. We know the business plan is right.”
The two men know they must finalise funding as soon as possible and on Monday they travelled to London to continue negotiations with potential backers.
Deloitte has already unveiled US private equity fund KPS as preferred bidder sparking fears of asset-stripping and further mass redundancies both here and in Ireland.
Tom R Wedgwood, aged 39, said: “I feel responsibility for a man who comes to join us at 16 and then spends his entire career with us. The big difference between us and the previous management is that we have an absolute passion for the business and a real understanding of it at a grass roots level.”