As we are all aware it has been reported in the media that a consortium led by Tom R Wedgwood and Tom D Wedgwood, eighth-generation descendants of the original founder, Josiah Wedgwood, has made a “serious bid” to buy back the family business, which could see the Wedgwood brand ending its 22-year merger with Waterford Crystal.
The Wedgwoods are understood to want to transfer production and design back to the Potteries in Staffordshire, as a selling point for overseas customers, from factories in the Far East. They are thought to be backed by investors in the Middle East.
Last month, Tom R Wedgwood, who was a director of Wedgwood in Japan until three weeks ago, said: “I am passionate about Wedgwood. It epitomises all that is great about British manufacturing ““ skilled craftsmen and design and a global brand that represents quality and luxury.”
I would like to add in this article a letter from Alison Wedgwood (wife of Tom D Wedgwood), taken from The Sentinel on Friday 6th February. She says:
Thanks for all the kind words and support from readers. It’s good to know how fiercely proud and loyal people in Stoke-on-Trent are.
The two Toms are serious about getting investors on board to buy Wedgwood, but are realistic about their chances.
I’m probably biased, as Tom D Wedgwood is my husband, but think the two Toms combine to make a formidably skilled team.
They have, along with professional advisors, developed a comprehensive business plan, which focuses on the financial returns and development strategies to drive the brand forward.
Tom R Wedgwood has worked for Wedgwood for 18 years. He walked into a store in Hawaii, because they had an ad on the door for a sales job. He started at the bottom. He worked in sales, in Hawaii, the U.S. and then Japan.
Last year, as director of Asia Pacific, he spent 200 days on the road, marketing in Japan, China and Taiwan, which are now the most profitable markets in the company.
In the autumn he was in a prime time TV programme called The Brand which featured him and other Wedgwood family members and more importantly it featured workers at Barlaston ““ it reached 10 million Japanese viewers, it showed the English countryside, pictures of Josiah and Charles Darwin and the skilled workers in Barlaston. That is what Japanese and other global consumers demand of a Wedgwood product ““ exemplary design, skilled craftsmanship and Stoke manufacturing.
Tom D Wedgwood knows ceramic production processes in detail. He’s got a double first in engineering from Cambridge. As co-founder and Director of Newton Industrial Consultants, he makes his living analysing and improving manufacturing and supply chains for large and small manufacturers throughout the world.
They believe that with re-invigorated manufacturing, design and marketing drawing from the best in the ceramics business, a re-motivated and passionate work force based in Stoke and a completely new set of company values and goals Wedgwood 250 could rise like a phoenix. Remember, it has happened before. Wedgwood nearly went bust in the depression and during both world wars ““ but didn’t.
ALISON WEDGWOOD, Barlaston
Administrator Deloitte is working on a deal to sell “certain assets” of parent group Waterford Wedgwood to U.S. private equity fund KPS.
Stoke-on-Trent South MP Rob Flello is clearly very concerned and said, “If the Americans take it, they’re not interested in keeping jobs in Stoke-on-Trent, and if no-one is successful it will be the end of production here anyway”. “If the family is interested and does come forward then even if it’s only a fraction of the jobs compared to what they have got at the moment it would mean production of this prestigious brand would continue in North Staffordshire.”
I am sure everyone across the city hopes that their bid is successful. It is vital that we keep production local, we have the skilled workers here to do the jobs, and I for one do not want to see any more production going to Indonesia. As I have said on my previous articles, many people do not want to purchase items with the “made in Indonesia” stamp on it. It is an exclusive product, and we need to keep it that way. The pottery industry is part of our heritage, and over the years we have lost far too many of our well known pottery factories. Wedgwoods has borne the family name for 250 years, we want this to continue for many years to come!
For anyone who is a member of Facebook, as some of us bloggers are, there is a Save Wedgwood Group on there, so get yourself on and join it!
PitsnPots wishes the family members and the consortium the very best of luck!
To go to the Sentinel letters page click here, to read the letter and comments.
To view a BBC interview with the two Tom’s click here
What do you think, over to you!…….