Stoke & Staffordshire

Job losses announced at Barlaston Wedgwood

The site in Barlaston
Image caption About 145 workers could lose their jobs at the end of a consultation period

Just under a third of staff employed by Wedgwood in the UK could lose their jobs, it has been announced.

About 145 job losses are expected at the world famous pottery firm in Barlaston as it looks to "reduce complexity across its operations".

The company, which employs 440 people at the Staffordshire site, said it would consult unions.

Union GMB said it was "gravely concerning" and staff were "understandably" worried.

The Wedgwood family said it was "a devastating blow for Staffordshire" and "two thirds of the potters" were set to go.

Image caption The 256-year-old company is one of the oldest in the world, set up by Josiah Wedgwood

The 145 losses will be made up of 130 manufacturing workers and 15 restaurant staff, the company said.

A consultation period of 45 days has begun, with the exact number of job losses to be confirmed at the end.

The business is to also undertake a review of product lines.

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"It is expected that the production of some tableware products will be consolidated to other existing manufacturing sites", a statement said, with the firm focussing on "hand crafted, high-end products that are core to the brand".

"All restaurant operations at Barlaston will also be reviewed," it added.

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".

'Proud potters'

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

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

The Wedgwood family said: "Losing two thirds of the potters at Wedgwood's only production site in the UK is a devastating blow for Staffordshire and for the proud potters of Stoke on Trent."

Sara Williams, chief executive of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said Wedgwood workers were a "highly skilled workforce" and other ceramic companies in the area were "crying out" for them.

"We will do our utmost to assist them to find new roles", she added.

The 256-year-old company is one of the oldest in the world, set up by Josiah Wedgwood, the grandfather of naturalist Charles Darwin, in 1759.

In 2015, a £34m museum housing the firm's ceramic collection opened to the public at the Barlaston site.

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