Finnish homeware group purchases Waterford Wedgwood

The crystal and china company has been sold for $437 million.

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By :  ,  Financial Analyst

Crystal and china company Waterford Wedgwood has been sold for an initial $437 million (£281.5 million).

The purchase, by Finnish homeware group Fiskars, comes six years after the firm was rescued by KPS Capital Partners.

Managing partner at the New York based private equity fund, Michael Psaros, explained that Fiskars was founded in 1649 and the company has a strong understanding of the Waterford Wedgwood brand and its market.

"We are thrilled to sell WWRD to Fiskars, a company with its own 365-year history, which understands WWRD is not just a company or a group of iconic brands, but also possesses a unique legacy and a heritage," he said.

A six-year turnaround

After suffering a financial collapse, the 250-year-old Irish company was purchased in 2009 by KPS. Shortly after that takeover, the brand was combined with Royal Doulton and Royal Albert to create one umbrella business, which focussed on a "new business strategy and results-driven corporate culture," reports the Telegraph.

Mr Psaros, explained that the original business had been in very bad condition. "The business failed for a number of reasons, but not because of the recession, that's a false narrative," he said.

"Businesses don't end up in trouble, the are managed into the ditch," he added.

According to KPS, the turnaround saved 3,800 jobs and it has pushed into Asia, where there is a large demand for luxury goods. This has lifted the profits to more than $150 million.

As part of the turnaround project, KPS overhauled the business and moved half of the group's production to lower-cost countries like Slovakia and Indonesia. However, the company also made a point to maintain a significant manufacturing presence in Waterford and the Wedgwood Estate in Barlaston - as the brand's English heritage is an important part of its image. They also invested in new visitor centres to welcome tourists to the facilities in the UK.

In addition, Waterford Wedgwood's image has been improved with collaborations from celebrities, including chef Gordon Ramsay, fashion designer Vera Wang and supermodel Miranda Kerr.

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