Waterford Wedgwood PLC, which manufacturers two of the world’s most famous brands, has just declared bankruptcy. Even more shocking, the 250-year-old Anglo-Irish manufacturer of fine crystal and pottery has shifted much of its production to Asia to slash manufacturing costs.
There’s a bull in the china shop! Waterford Wedgwood PLC (Dublin, Ireland), which manufacturers two of the world’s most famous brands, has just declared bankruptcy. That’s not too surprising, given the recent downturn in the world economy, which has sent more than just glass and china crashing to the floor.
What was more shocking to me is the fact that the venerable Anglo-Irish manufacturer of fine crystal and pottery has shifted much of its production to Asia to slash manufacturing costs. According to a report from Reuters news agency, 59 percent of production has already been outsourced to Indonesia. Several hundred jobs remain in Ireland and England for high-end products, but those jobs now appear to be in jeopardy.
I never thought Waterford or Wedgwood would be made in Asia. As a young lad visiting family in the British Isles, I had several opportunities to tour Waterford’s old plant in southeast Ireland and Wedgwood’s large operation in Barlaston, England. I was always amazed by the fine skills-many passed on from generation to generation-required to make the products.
In fact, I have often considered Wedgwood’s famous Jasperware, which features raised white motifs, to be one of the ultimate forms of manual assembly-it’s a unique, delicate process that cannot be automated.
Ironically, Wedgwood is celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2009. I wonder what old Josiah Wedgewood, one of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution, would think about today’s news.