Leaner Wedgwood delivers a dividend

TOM STEVENSON

Deputy City Editor

Waterford Wedgwood, the crystal and tableware manufacturer, has paid its first interim dividend since 1988 as a cost-cutting programme in both divisions continued to boost the return from flat sales.

Tony O'Reilly, the chairman, warned that trading conditions remained competitive. But he added: "Market share gains, together with the improving profits and balance sheet, demonstrate the success of our continued joint strategies of tenacious cost reduction."

Profit before tax in the six months to June jumped 45 per cent to IRpounds 7.4m from sales of IRpounds 150.9m (IRpounds 149.3m). After a 37 per cent rise in earnings per share to 0.82p, an interim payout of 0.25p a share was recommended. The shares, which have risen from a low of 14p three years ago, closed 2p lower at 62p.

The company's recovery since 1992 follows a bleak start to the decade, when in three years it notched up cumulative losses of more than IRpounds 40m. First, problems at the Waterford crystal division were put right and now work at Wedgwood is starting to pay off.

During the period Waterford benefited from a 12 per cent growth in sales from its Marquis brand, the middle-range glass products manufactured under contract. The brand has been a success despite early concerns about consumer resistance because they are not made in Ireland.

Profits from Waterford grew by 32 per cent to IRpounds 4.5m and the division received another boost earlier this year with the acquisition of Stuart & Son after a bitter family feud at the UK-based glass maker. Stuart was Waterford's first acquisition.

At Wedgwood, operating profits of IRpounds 5.6m showed an improvement for the third year running, up 24 per cent, 30 per cent in sterling terms.

Sales in the division increased by 3 per cent, with the Wedgwood brand making the running with a 10.4 per cent improvement. The lower-priced brands, including earthenware producer Johnson, declined by 7 per cent.

Wedgwood has adopted a similar policy to Waterford, introducing a new line called Wedgwood Homecare, aimed at the higher growth middle market. Shipping of the range began at the beginning of the year.

Wedgwood has also introduced Embassy, a range made under contract in Japan and California. The range is produced at lower cost than would have been possible by investing in new machinery in England.

The rationalisation programme at Wedgwood has included the closure of five of the company's 11 plants in the last three years.

Staffing levels have been reduced from a peak of 8,000 in 1990 to about 5,500 now. Cost savings are forecast to run at about pounds 13m a year by 1996.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's First World War footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during the war. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end