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Waterford wedgwood on the block again

WATERFORD Wedgwood, the 250-year-old luxury china and glassware maker, has been put up for sale by its owners, just six years after being rescued from the brink of collapse.

US private equity firm KPS Capital Partners has hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for WWRD, the owner of the Waterford, Wedgwood, Royal Albert and Royal Doulton luxury brands. Most of the company's crystal is now made outside Ireland.

The group went into administration in 2009 after banks called in their loans.

Its former majority owner, media tycoon Anthony O'Reilly, spent more than €500m trying to keep the company afloat. However, it had struggled with falling demand for luxury china which cannot go into a dishwasher.

KPS bought most of Waterford Wedgwood's assets from receivers Deloitte in 2009 for €107m through a new holding company WWRD.

The firm now generates €387m of sales, with around 80pc coming from America and Asia. It also has 56 shops in China where its brands are popular with the country's burgeoning middle-class, and announced plans last week to buy back 21 of the stores from a distributor.

WWRD declined to comment yesterday on the sale, saying "options for the next phase of growth are constantly under review. KPS Capital Partners remains firmly committed to achieving the brightest possible future for the brands and employees of WWRD".

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