Doulton boss shuts his last British plant and jets off to the sun

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The Independent Online

The chief executive of Royal Doulton has been attacked for jetting off on holiday only three days after announcing the closure of the pottery group's last big factory in the UK.

The chief executive of Royal Doulton has been attacked for jetting off on holiday only three days after announcing the closure of the pottery group's last big factory in the UK.

Wayne Nutbeen is understood to have left for a holiday in Zanzibar with a friend, shortly after closing the Nile Street factory in Stoke-on-Trent with the loss of 525 jobs. He is not due to return until early this week, just in time for the group's annual shareholder meeting.

Nile Street was the last major UK manufacturing site owned by Royal Doulton, which has operated from Stoke for more than two centuries. The only production that will be continued in the UK is high-decoration work at a factory next door to the Royal Doulton visitor centre in the city. Five years ago the group employed over 7,000 people at 11 factories in the UK.

The closure has angered unions in particular because of the lack of consultation. Last September the group's chairman, Hamish Grossart, said structural changes had been "largely completed".

Asked how this statement tallied with the closure of Nile Street, a spokeswoman said: "largely completed does not mean entirely completed".

To add insult to injury, Mr Nutbeen revealed Royal Doulton had sold the site to property developers, St Modwen, to be turned into flats.

The potters' union, the CATU, is taking legal advice because it believes Royal Doulton did not follow European Union rules on consulting staff before making them redundant.

Anger about the closures has been fuelled by Mr Nutbeen's absence. "I've actually been to Doulton trying to see the chief executive about my constituents facing redundancy," said Paul Farrelly, a local Labour MP. "The talk has been: 'Where's Wayne?'"

Mr Nutbeen was paid £310,00 including bonuses last year, a slight increase on 2002. The group made a £11.7m loss.

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