Pottery giant Wedgwood unveils £25 million investment in Stoke-on-Trent works
POTTERY giant Wedgwood has today unveiled multi-million pound plans to redevelop its Stoke-on-Trent base.
Parent company WWRD is planning a £25 million investment in its Barlaston works three years after buying Wedgwood out of administration.
The planned cash injection will be used to:
Create new 'state-of-the-art' manufacturing facilities;
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Expand and upgrade the Wedgwood 'visitor experience';
Safeguard the 500 existing jobs;
Create more than 100 new roles.
Officials at WWRD say the masterplan is proof of their commitment to manufacturing in Stoke-on-Trent.
Some of the £25 million would come from the firm and some from selling part of its 281-acre site for high-class housing.
The Sentinel understands WWRD is also applying for cash through the Government's Regional Growth Fund.
WWRD chief financial officer Anthony Jones said: "We've made the bold decision to transform the Wedgwood estate.
"We want to create an efficient and sustainable high-quality development that will underpin our ambitious aspirations and the future growth plans for the company.
"By building new, state-of-the-art factory facilities we can continue to develop a strong Wedgwood business in the Potteries, and commit to creating and safeguarding a significant number of jobs."
The site's current manufacturing facilities are not fit for purpose, and the investment would enable the firm to increase production levels.
Mr Jones added: "We are making a point of saying we are committed to UK manufacturing and I think it needed to be said.
"In order to make that commitment to UK manufacturing, to make it not only viable but increase it from the current level, we need to lay the site out in a more efficient way."
The Wedgwood Visitor Centre currently attracts around 30,000 people a year.
Now the firm wants to more than triple that figure with the upgraded 'experience', which would include retail, factory tours and food.
The new jobs would be split broadly equally between manufacturing, the visitor side and office roles.
The houses are planned for the estate's brownfield sites and some immediately adjacent green belt land, which fall within the Stoke-on-Trent City Council boundary.
Mr Jones said: "We are excited to be beginning a new chapter. We look forward to creating an estate that does justice to Wedgwood's heritage and its history in the area."
Public consultation on the development is due to start next month and WWRD hopes to submit a planning application in October or November.
If all goes to plan, work could start as early as May next year and the development could be completed by mid-2014.
Waterford Wedgwood collapsed into administration in January 2009.
New York-based private equity firm KPS Capital Partners bought most of the company in March, 2009.
Stoke-on-Trent South MP Rob Flello said: "This investment will secure jobs in the area and preserve our heritage.
"It shows that North Staffordshire is still the world centre of ceramic excellence."