Waterford Crystal to create 80 jobs at flagship factory in city
Visitor centre to open later this year as new owners invest in iconic brand
Crystal manufacturing will return to Waterford city this June with the firm that now controls the Waterford Wedgwood brands yesterday announcing plans to hire more than 80 people.
WWRD Group Holdings, which is owned by KPS Capital, is already planning to expand a flagship factory and visitor centre set to open later this year.
The world-renowned brand is to take over the former ESB offices at The Mall in Waterford city as part of a €25m redevelopment of the historic area.
Pierre de Viellemejane, chief executive of WWRD, said about 40 new staff would be directly involved in the production of more expensive Waterford Crystal pieces at the factory, while 11 would be based off-site and would be engaged in operations such as polishing and packing.
Between 25 and 30 staff will work at the retail centre, with recruitment beginning in March.
Mr de Viellemejane said he would welcome interest from former Waterford Wedgwood workers and, while acknowledging conditions would differ from their previous employer, he added that WWRD would offer "competitive" terms.
The new site will manufacture about 40,000 pieces a year, but they will comprise exclusively of high-end items as well as bespoke orders.
Before the Waterford Wedgwood business collapsed early last year it was manufacturing about 1.2 million pieces of crystal annually.
Many other Waterford Crystal product lines are still in production, and are being produced at manufacturing sites in countries such as Germany, Italy and Slovenia.
The new Waterford operation will be responsible for an estimated $20m in annual sales from a total of about $100m for the firm worldwide.
A new furnace, valued at close to €1m, has been commissioned for the facility.
The cost of fitting out the manufacturing centre and adjacent office block is being borne by WWRD.
WWRD chief financial officer Anthony Jones said he expected the cheapest items made at the new facility would be priced around €100 to €250.
And Mr de Viellemejane added that other retailers in Waterford would also be able to sell Waterford Crystal pieces.
He said that among the items produced by the new factory would be trophies for major sporting events, while the company has also inked a deal to create the awards for the People's Choice Awards in the US.
Actors Sandra Bullock and Johnny Depp were among the winners at the People's Choice annual awards ceremony in the US, which was held in Los Angeles earlier this month.