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Waterford Crystal gets sparkle back at flagship HQ

The manufacturers of Waterford Crystal have vowed to create a new high-end facility which will result in the employment of 90 full-time staff.

The owners of the crystal manufacturing company said that the joint venture with the city council will involve investment of between €20m and €25m.

The Waterford Crystal Prestige Manufacturing Facility is scheduled to open in June on the site of the former ESB regional office on the Mall in Waterford city centre.

More than 700 people lost their jobs as a result of the closure of Waterford Crystal's original plant at Kilbarry last year and WWRD bought the Waterford brand and intellectual property, but not its manufacturing plant.

It is expected that 40,000 pieces will be hand-made every year by around 20 skilled craftspeople at the facility.

But the group's new management said it had "no number in mind" in terms of how many of the company's previous staff members may retrieve jobs at the new company and outlined that recruitment for the new jobs will begin in March.

WWRD, the company which last year bought the publicly quoted Waterford Wedgwood out of receivership, said it expected the operation to generate sales of about €14m per year when it is in operation.

The figure is close to 20pc of the old Waterford Crystal's estimated annual sales. The building on the Mall will also house a visitors' centre, where there will be demonstrations about how crystal is blown and cut, and a shop which will sell the pieces.

However, the group are focusing on the production of quality rather than quantity and volume will fall from more than one million pieces to 40,000 high-end crafted products.

Premium

Mr Jones said that, if the new venture is successful enough over the first few years, WWRD will look at expanding the facility, possibly on the city's quays.

The company currently employs 65 in Waterford, in sales and administration services.

"We want to keep Waterford Crystal as a premium brand," management explained.

Waterford City Council will own the two new facilities, but WWRD will operate them fully on an eight-year extendable lease and the group may also expand the facilities over the next four years.