After 2009, being such a dreadful year in Waterford, the announcement of 90 plus new jobs with Waterford Crystal is a great start for the confidence of the city. It may not be anything like the amount that were lost in the closure but, with seasonal, IT and logistic workers taken into account, the number does head towards 200. These are early days after the closure. When Waterford Stanley restarted after a receivership, the new plans were also modest but they did grow afterwards as did employment and the business still remains even if smaller as production was partly out sourced to Spain. Tourism and prestige manufacturing are the key elements here.
Some $20m dollars worth of glass will be made in Waterford over a year at full, 7-days production. There will not be a large number of skilled staff working there but it will be a start to get high quality production going again. Trophies, prestige pieces of high value from $250 to $10,000 will be made there.
This will attract tourists with forecasts of €400,000 for 2014, all going well.
The new WWRD company is being modest in forecasting having suffered sales-fall of 25 per cent during the recession but a recovery is now under way. They see great potential in Waterford and restarting production in the old part of the city, and being part of the old city near the Viking Triangle, will appeal to the many visitors coming to the city. The new owners and operators have bought into the whole heritage idea of Waterford Crystal and how the two can work together in boosting the city and its attractions. They are hopeful of many US visitors when the economy recovers there and the US dollar gets strong enough for tourists to visit Europe.
The UK will be another strong market for sales and visitors and with the Aer Arann connection to Manchester, Birmingham and Luton and the new motorway from the Dublin region, the pieces are in place for Waterford to benefit.
The City Council, the councillors and its manager have taken a brave step in moving forward on this. Councillor Hilary Quinlan, speaking to the Munster Express, explained how he had told some of the executives about his family connections with the company. He had been attending a craft fair in Dublin in connection with his own business and attended the Waterford Crystal launch with enthusiasm. He reflected the strong support from the councillors and the political parties.
The Waterford tourism industry had an excellent promotion at the Holiday World tourism fair last weekend in Dublin. The hoteliers were there in large numbers. Now is the chance for the hoteliers and tourist interests to kick-start their businesses again after a horrendous year. There is a great opportunity to attract visitors to Waterford again. The people in Waterford will be proud to see Waterford Crystal start again, even if on small scale.
KPS may not be the owners for the long term, but they are putting in place the seeds to get the tourist business in the city growing again and restoring manufacturing. The UNITE union has also backed the move. Waterford city has been at a very low ebb but now it is on the way back. Let the people and the tourism interests make the most of the opportunity.