Waterford Wedgwood shrugs off Asian woes to boost profit

WATERFORD WEDGWOOD, the fine china and crystal group, yesterday shrugged off the woes being experienced by the luxury goods sector with a 13 per cent rise in first-half operating profits to Irpounds 14m. The Waterford brand's performance was particularly strong.

The company said the Asian economic crisis had affected sales of Wedgwood china in Japan but the impact had been limited to pounds 1m. Waterford crystal, less exposed to Asian markets, saw profits rise by 36 per cent to Irpounds 9.1m, helped by the introduction of new products, including a millennium collection. Waterford's US sales rose by 16 per cent on the year.

The company said it was examining American sales closely to see if the recent turmoil in financial markets was affecting demand. Richard Barnes, the finance director said: "We have seen zero indication of any kind of slowdown. We see no signs of any changes in the near term but we are monitoring the situation closely."

Rosenthal, the German ceramics firm acquired by Waterford in February, is performing ahead of expectations: it broke even compared to an Irpounds 2.1m loss in the equivalent period last year.

Rosenthal was boosted by sales of its Versace designer collection and rationalisation of its distribution network in France and Italy. The company has also signed a deal with Bulgari, the luxury goods group, which will see Rosenthal ranges distributed in Bulgari's retail outlets.

Pre-tax profits fell by 12 per cent to Irpounds 9m partly due to costs associated with the Rosenthal deal. However, Waterford Wedgwood shares, which have fallen in recent months in line with other luxury goods stocks, rose by 2p to close at 52p.

"By any measure, the renaissance of this group has been a significant achievement," said Dr Tony O'Reilly, the group's chairman. "We continue to make progress towards the group sales target and our 15 per cent operating margin."

The company had hoped to achieve the margin target and group sales of Irpounds 650m by 2000. However, difficult markets in Asia may mean a slight delay in achieving the figure, the company said. "We believe the Asian situation will moderate growth in 1998 but, looking forward, rationalisation will help contain the situation,'' said the finance director, Richard Barnes.

Group sales rose by 47 per cent to Irpounds 257.7m in the first half. The proposed interim dividend is 0.4p a share, up 14 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy