Business Irish

Friday 6 December 2019

State of Wedgewood was crystal clear

With New York-based KPS Capital Partners having bought six Ardagh glass container manufacturing sites in the US as the Irish company completed its acquisition of Verallia North America, The Punt was curious to see how other KPS investments have been performing. In 2009, KPS got what seems like a bargain when it paid just €6m for the intellectual property attached to the collapsed Waterford-Wedgwood group. The business has been doing well for KPS since then.

Here's the 2012 take Mike Psaros, KPS managing partner, gave on the glass and tableware business when interviewed by 'Private Equity International': "I've spent 22 years – that's half my life – immersed in turning around troubled or underperforming businesses," he said. "And I can tell you unequivocally: I have never seen a company that was as poorly run as Waterford Wedgwood. In many cases with a turnaround you have a marketing problem, or a strategic problem, or maybe a combination of both. This was a case where every single aspect of the business was broken."

Ouch. "You had three magic brand names, each with a 200-year heritage, and you had spectacular products that were selling in 80 countries around the world – despite it being the worst-run business I'd encountered in two decades. That really speaks to the power of the brands," he added. Crystal clear.

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