Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

Letter updates

Peter Hamilton’s letter “Wearing a Stetson did not stop Wedgwood’s decline” (September 4) wrongly attributes Wedgwood’s decline to the acquisition of smaller potters, its use to drive sales and the role played by former chairman Sir Arthur Bryan. This analysis is too simple.

Bryan retired in 1988, after successfully building a large British design and manufacturing business, and avoided a hostile takeover by London Rubber by partnering with Waterford Glass. The mismanagement and deterioration of the business was after his retirement.

The tales of excessive management and fickleness at Wedgwood during this period are legend and legion here in the earthen bowls. This group of managers is chasing sales, but more dangerously they do not control the costs and also do not understand the business they should be running.

In the manufacturing process of ceramics we use ‘bullers rings’ – a small ceramic tool that can show the degree of heat pieces to which it is exposed in the oven.

A good company also uses ‘metaphysical’ noise rings so that directors can understand what is happening in the hidden areas of the company. It seems to me that Wedgwood has been using physical rings in recent days, but has ignored the metaphysical rings. Bryan, on the other hand, fully understood these measures.

I hope this letter can restore the balance. Here in the Potteries we still cherish the names Wedgwood, Spode, Williams-Ellis and Bryan.

Dick Steele
Chairman, Portmeirion Group
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, United Kingdom

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