Waterford Wedgwood reports first-quarter loss

Irish china and crystal firm Waterford Wedgwood, still suffering from the US downturn, reported a first-quarter pre-tax loss of EUR 14.3 million on 5 June and forecast no improvement through June. The…

Irish china and crystal firm Waterford Wedgwood, still suffering from the US downturn, reported a first-quarter pre-tax loss of EUR 14.3 million on 5 June and forecast no improvement through June. The company, reporting quarterly results for the first time, said its operating loss before goodwill amortization was EUR 8.8 million. Some analysts had forecast a EUR 15.8 million pre-tax loss and EUR 7.7 million operating loss, but the company said the operating loss was in line with its estimates. Chairman Sir Anthony O“Reilly said Waterford Wedgwood had seen little sign of improvement in January and February and expected a “similar environment” to continue through June. However, O“Reilly said in a statement while trading conditions remained difficult, new product and distribution strategies would generate improving earnings and cash performance as the year progresses. He said sales for May equalled same month sales from 2001 for the first time since August and he noted an upturn in the Japanese market. The company has been hit hard by the economic downturn in the US, one of its principal markets, and by the fall in American tourist traffic to Ireland, in the wake of the 11 September hijack attacks. The company said a restructuring programme announced in November was proceeding on schedule and was expected to deliver annual savings of EUR 43 million from 2003 onwards. Its Stourbridge, West Midlands plant in Britain had been closed and it said it had already cut half of a planned 1,400 posts in from its staff of 10,000.