New life breathed into crystal firm
Published 05/01/2010 | 16:58
Work is under way to bring small-scale production of Waterford Crystal back to its Irish birthplace as the company's former flagship factory goes up for sale.
The furnace was switched off at the world-renowned plant and manufacturing outsourced after its parent company Waterford Wedgwood went into receivership exactly one year ago.
But new life is now being breathed into the brand in the form of a production, tourist and retail outlet in the heart of Waterford city.
Around 100 jobs are set to be created at the multimillion-euro site, which is expected to open in June.
Waterford City Council's city manager Michael Walsh said closure of the firm's 36-acre Kilbarry plant, which is now up for sale, had devastated local people.
"Waterford Crystal makes up a significant part of the heritage here and we believe this is the best end result after a very traumatic event for the city," he said. "We see it as a fresh start for Waterford Crystal and we're satisfied with the sustainability of the property."
Council-funded building work has already begun to refurbish the former ESB offices and adjoining garages housing the facilities.
Once completed, the premises will then be leased to the brand's owner, WWRD Holdings.
Production will initially be limited to high-end products, with tourists able to observe all operations from furnace work to engraving.
If the new project is a success, production and visitor facilities will be moved to a larger facility as part of a complete remodelling of the city's quays.