Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Royal Doulton

Last updated 23rd, January, 2009

DESPITE its spectacular fall from grace as one of the biggest and most successful names in the pottery industry, Royal Doulton remains a brand synonymous with Stoke-on-Trent, writes Richard Ault.


The Royal Doulton Company was de-merged from Pearson in 1993, to become a publicly quoted company on the London Stock Exchange.

Factories including the Paladin works, of Fenton; Edensor works, of Longton; Churchbank, of Tunstall; and St Mary’s works, based at Fenton, were all axed during the 1990s.

Many consider 1998 to be a defining year for the company, when 1,200 people lost their jobs.

In February, 2002, the business announced the closure of its Baddeley Green factory, as part of a restructuring plan which included the loss of 500 jobs in the Potteries and the transfer of Royal Albert production to the firm’s plant in Indonesia.

The announcement was made as the company unveiled operating losses of £12.4 million for the past year, 2001, which were called a “shattering blow” by Geoff Bagnall, general secretary of the potters’ union CATU. The union accused Royal Doulton of reneging on a promise to keep Royal Albert in Britain.

But with workers in Jakarta paid an average of £72 per month, as opposed to £260-a-week for staff in Stoke-on-Trent, Royal Doulton felt the move represented its best chance for survival.

In the wake of the closure announcement, shares in Royal Doulton fell to 13.75 pence. And more bad news was to follow. On October 21, 2002, Royal Doulton’s share price opened at 4.5p, compared to around 300p in 1996. Figures showed the business made an estimated loss of more than £10 million in the first half of 2002, a similar amount to the same time the previous year.

In September 2002, Royal Doulton announced that its famous Beswick factory, in Gold Street, Longton, would also close.

This saw the halting of the Potteries production of famous brands such as Beswick and Bunnykins, with the latter being outsourced to China.

Workers at the Regent words in Longton were also told they were out of a job.

The closures and outsourcing programme led potters’ union CATU to launch a scathing attack on Royal Doulton’s senior management team, accusing them of being “destructive and incompetent” and “arrogant and complacent”.

MP George Stevenson echoed the calls for chairman Hamish Grossart and chief executive Wayne Nutbeen to be replaced. He told The Sentinel in October, 2002: “Their management plan is clearly not working, despite several reviews.

“I believe management which is not prepared to look at its domestic and international strategy....when it has clearly failed, is not up to the job. The chairman and chief executive are responsible.”

As Royal Doulton entered 2003, it had just one factory left, at Nile Street in Burslem, with a workforce of 850 people. Losses increased to £14.7 million and sales for the year to January slumped by 17 per cent to £138 million.

Pot worker Tony Bloor had spent 16 years at various Royal Doulton factories when he was made redundant in 2002. He told The Sentinel in 2003: “I have some very good memories from my time at Doulton, but most of those are from my early years. In the last few years I didn’t enjoy going to work and I still feel bitter about the way the management treated us.

“Once the management realised they could manufacture cheaper in Indonesia it was just as if we were fodder.”

Towards the end of 2003, Royal Doulton announced it was axing another 180 jobs at Nile Street and moving yet more production overseas.

Finally, in April, 2005, the famous Nile Street factory in Burslem closed its doors for the final time, leaving Royal Doulton with a production workforce of just 50 in North Staffordshire. The huge blow to manufacturing and employment in Stoke-on-Trent was marked by a front page headline in The Sentinel which read: ‘The End’.

Royal Doulton was then taken over by Wedgwood, its former arch-rival. Today, the Royal Doulton brand continues to be at the forefront of the market, with collectors and ordinary home owners snapping-up classic designs.

In a further sad twist, in January 2009, it was announced that Waterford Wedgwood, owners of Royal Doulton, had collapsed into administration.

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Hamish McLeod GROSSART52 born 07-Apr-1957

SPECulative Society of Edinburgh Member

Non-Executive Chairman joined the board as chairman in 1996.
Cairn Energy PLC
currently also non-executive deputy chairman
Cairn India Limited
a non-executive director Member and Chairman of the Audit, Remuneration, Nomination & Corporate Governance Committees
British Polythene Industries PLC
Deputy Chairman
Artemis Investment Management Limited
a non-executive director

Quality Care Homes
Scottish Radio Holdings
Digital Bridges
Barker & Dobson - (Drayton Consolidated Trust) - Alma Holdings
Royal Doulton

He has over 20 years' experience on public company boards, in a wide range of industries,
both in an executive and non-executive capacity, frequently with catastrophic consequences.

He has left:
a long trail of broken lives, betrayed staff, colleagues and women,
who have suffered from his emotional inadequacies and lack of maturity.

A weak and bullying individual,
who brings shame and unhappiness to his children,
and those who misguidedly cared for him, as he sets out to prove his worth to himself.

Always acting egocentrically at the expense of those he can bully, exploit and control.
An emotional Narcissist & a manipulative sociopath.
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