Waterford seeks US millennial boost

WATERFORD WEDGWOOD, the Irish ceramics and glassware group, has glittering hopes for a millennium profile boost in the United States.

The company hopes that a 500lb, six-foot diameter Waterford crystal ball, to be lowered over Times Square in Manhattan at the year's end, will bolster branding in the US. Sales there already account for 40 per cent of group turnover.

News of the promotion coincided with Waterford reporting that first- half pre-tax profit grew 17.5 per cent to 13.4m euros. Sales gained 5.5 per cent to 342.6m euros and the interim dividend per share grew 12.5 per cent to 0.5714 euros.

"The sustained nature of the group's growth encourages me for the future," said chairman Dr Anthony O'Reilly. "The opportunity for top line improvements presented by All-Clad, the strong performance of our brands in the US, the global exposure of the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball and the easing of the Asian crisis all point to the group increasing its momentum," he added.

Waterford acquired All-Clad, the luxury US cookware maker, for $110m on 30 June. Sales and profits of All-Clad, whose sales have soared more than three-fold in the past five years to $51.5m in 1998, were not included in the results.