Waterford rolls the dice in Vegas

The World Market Center in Las Vegas, where Waterford Wedgwood will open a store

The World Market Center in Las Vegas, where Waterford Wedgwood will open a store

 

As if anyone needed reminding that things have changed – and changed utterly – at the luxury goods company Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton (WWRD), its American private equity owners have taken a gamble on a new retail outlet in Sin City.

It would have been unthinkable in the more genteel days of Tony O’Reilly, but the company will next week cut the ribbon an a store at the World Market Center in Las Vegas, the largest homewares showroom in the world.

KPS, which bought Waterford out of administration in 2009, is driving the company’s revival “as a luxurious and sophisticated brand that will expand globally across the luxury markets”.

The company will use the store to showcase its range of products including those made with the endorsement of designers Vera Wang, Jasper Conran, Monique Lhuillier and John Rocha. And, of course, the volcanic chef Gordon Ramsay.

Whatever about Vegas, KPS’s deal for WWRD looks like a gamble that has paid off. It was reported earlier this year that it has taken cash dividends of about $66 million out of the company over the last two years. Happy days, considering KPS paid a reputed $100m after it collapsed into receivership when it was under the control of O’Reilly.

It’s a pity the former workers at its Waterford glass factory, whose pensions were stuffed when the company collapsed, have yet to hit the jackpot.