An employee at Waterford Crystal glass cutting.
A crystal business was originally founded in the city in 1783 by George and William Penrose; it produced extremely fine crystal that became world-renowned. However, their company closed in 1851. In 1947, Czech immigrant Charles Bacik, grandfather of Irish senator Ivana Bacik, established a glass works in the city, due to the superb reputation of the original glassware. Aided by fellow countryman and designer Miroslav Havel, the company started operations in a depressed Ireland. By the early 1950s it had been taken over as a subsidiary of the Irish Glass Bottle company, owned by McGrath, Duggan and Freeman of the Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake, heavy investors in Irish business at that time.
Jasper Conran began designing his signature range of crystal for Waterford in 1999. The endeavour has evolved into four unique lines for Waterford and a complimentary tableware collection in fine bone china for Wedgwood.
Glass blower at Waterford glass factory
In May 2005, Waterford Wedgwood announced the closure of its factory in Dungarvan in order to consolidate all operations into the main factory in Kilbarry, Waterford City, where 1,000 people were employed by the company. The move resulted in nearly 500 Dungarvan workers losing their jobs.
The Kilbarry operation featured a tourist centre offering guided tours of the factory, a gift shop, cafe, and gallery. After the closure of that factory on Jan 30th, 2009, former employees and their families staged a sit in, hoping to prevail upon receiver Deloitte to retain those jobs. The sit in ended in March, 2009 after workers agreed split payment of 10m. The worker's fight to keep the factory open is chronicled in a PBS online documentary.
Waterford Crystal Limited was, until March 2009, a subsidiary of Waterford Wedgwood plc, itself formed through the acquisition by the then Waterford Glass Group of the famous pottery manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood in 1986. The last chairman was Tony O'Reilly, and the CEO John Foley. The leading shareholders of the holding company are former billionnaire O'Reilly and his family, joined in the last decade by O'Reilly's brother-in-law, Greek shipping heir Peter Goulandris. That company was forced into receivership in early 2009.
Under the receivership managed by Deloitte, ownership of most of Waterford Wedgwood plc's assets was tranfered to KPS Capital in March 2009. Waterford Crystal, along with Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, and other brands, were transferred to the new company WWRD Holdings Ltd. The sale did not include the factory or visitor centre in Kilbary, Ireland.
On 5 January 2009, news of the receivership of Waterford Wedgwood Ltd. was announced in Ireland and the UK.
On 30 January 2009 it was announced that the Waterford Crystal plant in Kilbarry was to shut down immediately, despite earlier promises to discuss any such move with the unions in advance. Many of the employees performed an unoffical sit-in. The sit-in made the BBC News On 4 February 2009, there were protests across the city at how the workers were being treated.
On 27 February 2009, the receiver, David Carson of Deloitte, confirmed US equity firm KPS Capital were to purchase certain overseas assets and businesses of the Waterford Wedgwood Group. The purchase was completed on March 27, 2009, at which point KPS formed a new company, WWRD Holdings Ltd to manage these brands. The visitor centre shut its doors one last time on January 22, 2010.
Waterford Crystal Volvo Ocean Challenge Trophy
Waterford produces many patterns of lead crystal stemware, including lines such as Adare, Alana, Colleen, Kincora, Lismore, Maeve, Tramore, and many others.
Waterford's chandeliers hang in well-known buildings like Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, and the Kennedy Center, and they have made the 2,668 crystals for the famous New Year's Eve Ball that is dropped each year in New York City's Times Square. The ball is a 11,875 pound geodesic orb, 12 foot in diameter and is lit by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDS.
Sporting trophies are also crafted by Waterford, such as the Masters Series crystal shield trophies that are awarded to the winner of each of the nine men's professional tennis Masters Series tournaments, the AFCA National Championship Trophy that is awarded to the US college football team which finishes the season at the top of the Coaches Poll, and a representation of the Ashes urn that is presented to the winners of the Test cricket series between England and Australia.
Also crafted by Waterford are the winning trophies for the French and German Grand Prix in Formula One, and a bat and ball trophy presented at the final game at Yankee Stadium to Derek Jeter. They also design the trophies for the People's Choice Awards.
^ "Waterford Crystal closed amid crippling debts". USA Today. 2009-01-30. http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2009-01-30-waterford-sit-in_N.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
^ Werdigier, Julia (2009-01-05). "Waterford, the Crystal Maker, Is in Receivership". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/06/business/worldbusiness/06plate.html?hp. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
^ Garavan, Thomas N.; O. Cinneide, Barra; Garavan, Mary (1996). Cases in Irish business strategy and policy. Cengage Learning EMEA. pp. 347. ISBN 1860760147. http://books.google.com/books?id=HAh33DgZLjEC&pg=PA347&dq=%22irish+Glass+Bottle+Company%22&ei=2ne8Sf2hPJLYlQSw_JTjCw.
^ Lyall, Sarah (2009-03-09). "Workers and Tourists Keep Showing Up at a Closed Irish Factory". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/world/europe/10waterford.html?_r=1&ref=world. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
^ Edwards, Elaine (2009-03-22). "Waterford Crystal workers to end sit-in after deal accepted". The Irish Times. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0322/breaking33.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
^ "Wide Angle: Raise the Last Glass". PBS. 2010-01-01. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/episodes/raise-the-last-glass/introduction/4905/. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
^ a b "WWRD Holdings Limited acquires the assets of Waterford, Wedgwood, and Royal Doulton". KPS Capital Partners. 2009-03-26. http://www.kpsfund.com/newsandpressreleases/press2009-03-26.asp. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
^ Arm candy (2009-01-05). "Waterford placed into receivership as no buyer found". Irish Independent. http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/waterford-placed-into-receivership-as-no-buyer-found-1592448.html. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
^ "Staff protest over Waterford Crystal closure". RT News. 2009-01-30. http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0130/wedgwood.html. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
^ "Workers occupy crystal factory". BBC News. 2009-01-31. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7862515.stm. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
^ "Waterford Crystal bought by equity firm". RT News and Current Affairs. 2009-02-27. http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0227/wedgwood.html. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
^ "Waterford Crystal visitors' centre closes". RT News and Current Affairs. 2010-01-22. http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0122/wedgwood.html. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
^ MSNBC Times Square ball to get LED makeover (retrieved 31 December 2006)
^ "New Year's Eve: About the Ball". New Year's Eve. Times Square District Management Association. http://www.timessquarenyc.org/nye/nye_ball.html. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre
"Raise the Last Glass" PBS online documentary.
Jasper Conran Dining
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