Wedgwood woes as company faces heavy job cuts

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Iconic pottery giant Wedgwood reveals just under a third of its Barlaston-based workforce are set to face the axe.

The company which employs 440 people at its Staffordshire site has announced it is looking to “reduce complexity across its operations” resulting in around 145 job losses.

Senior Vice President, Christian Bachelor said: “While this is a very difficult decision to make, we believe that is it necessary for the long-term health of the business.

“There is a change in consumer behaviour, where people shop and what products they buy, and we need to come up with solutions and do the best we can for the business.”

Wedgwood site Barlaston

The high-end, hand-crafted pottery company also announced that they would be working closely with its workforce and consulting trade unions in the coming months.

Wendy Grieveson, of Union GMB said: “This news is gravely concerning and members are understandably concerned for their future.

“Wedgwood has been part of Stoke-on-Trent’s manufacturing landscape for more than 250 years and an iconic part of the UK ceramic sector.

“GMB will be entering urgent discussions with the company to seek the clarity and reassurance Wedgwood’s proud workforce need and deserve.”

Set up in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood, the grandfather of naturalist Charles Darwin, the company is one of the oldest in the world.

Statue of Josiah Wedgwood outside the North Stafford Hotel

The Wedgwood family have condemned the decision by the company’s Finnish owners, Fiskars Group, to cut jobs.

In an interview with BBC Midlands, Tom Wedgwood said: “We’ve seen so many times where the executives seem to hold their jobs when poor decisions are made and it’s the workers who pay the consequences for it, rather than having a better ‘bottom-up’ approach and investing in the craftsmen and seeing your business grow from there.”

People across the country took to social media to voice their concerns over the shock announcement.  

T.G Green Pottery Museum in Swandlincote tweeted: “Awful and appalling news about the job losses at Barlaston. T.G Green pottery shows the way that far eastern produced pottery is second-class to the skills of generations of UK potters.”

One Facebook user from Coseley commented: “That’s the trouble when you sell out to a foreign company, they have no allegiance to the workers or country, writing was on the wall when they started making Wedgwood in Indonesia.”

Ulla Lettijeff, president at the Fiskars Group, which runs Wedgwood, said: “As the market evolves we must look at how we can manage our business in a sustainable way and strengthen our competitive position.”

She added that though the plans were “right for the long-term…these are very difficult decisions to make”.

The announcement comes just 4 years after the firm opened a £34 million museum showcasing its ceramic collection to the public.

Staffordshire Chamebers of Commerce have since released a statement reassuring those working at the Barlaston factory.

“It goes without saying that Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will be on hand to help anyone affected by this sad news.

“Anyone needing help, guidance or support should get in touch and we will do our utmost to assist them to find new roles in other businesses locally, or we can help anyone wishing to set-up business on their own.”

For more information, visit: www.staffordshirechambers.co.uk

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