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Waterford Wedgwood remains positive

Luxury goods company Waterford Wedgwood remained quietly confident about its future yesterday, despite the gloomy economic climate. The global downturn and the fallout from 11 September has hurt profi…

Luxury goods company Waterford Wedgwood remained quietly confident about its future yesterday, despite the gloomy economic climate. The global downturn and the fallout from 11 September has hurt profits at the Irish firm as consumers shy away from splashing out on crystal, ceramics and other extravagant items. The Dublin company reported a first-quarter pre-tax loss of GBP 9.2 million and said it saw no improvement through June. The company, reporting quarterly results for the first time, said its operating loss before goodwill amortization was GBP 5.67 million. Group sales in the first quarter were GBP 133.7 million. The group is changing its year-end from December to March, so has not posted comparative figures. The company has been hit hard by the economic downturn in the US which accounts for 46% of group sales, and by the fall in American tourist traffic to Ireland following the 11 September attacks. Yet, despite the downbeat note, Waterford remained tentatively optimistic about its long-term future. Waterford announced last year it was cutting 1,400 jobs as part of an overhaul to lower operating costs, cut capacity, improve factory efficiency and reduce inventories. Sir Anthony said the restructuring was on track to produce annual savings of GBP 27.7 million from 2003, while cash outflow had been reduced by nearly GBP 24.5 million. In 2001, total sales came in at GBP 651.6 million while pre-tax losses came in at GBP 27.9 million. Waterford“s plant in Stourbridge in the West Midlands has already been closed and the company said it had already cut half of a planned 1,400 posts in from its staff of 10,000.

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