Waterford Wedgwood unveil rise in profits

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Waterford Wedgwood, the Irish luxury crystal and china group, yesterday unveiled a 15-per-cent rise in pre-tax profits for 1997. Brian Patterson, chief executive of Wedgwood (left) and Redmond O'Donoghue, chief executive of Waterford, said this year would see consolidation in the china business but forecast another year of record crystal sales.

Tony O'Reilly, group chairman, said: "We are confident that our sharpened focus, and our scale as the biggest premium crystal and ceramics player, will lead to expanded growth opportunities and increasing earnings momentum."

The group made pounds 40.0m Irish pounds, excluding a one-time restructuring charge of pounds 27.8m in its ceramics division. The figure was in line with analysts' forecasts of pounds 39.5m-pounds 40.8m and was up from pounds 34.9m in 1996. The one-time charge arose from restructuring and consolidating the Wedgwood china brand and the company's recently bought 82.62 per cent stake in German porcelain firm Rosenthal.

'During the early months of the year, both Wedgwood and Rosenthal will continue with heavy investment,' Dr O'Reilly said.