Administrators have said they will be making 40 redundancies at the Midland china firm Royal Worcester and Spode, which collapsed last week.
They said the historic firm could be sold to an overseas buyer.
Heritage firm Royal Worcester – one of the world’s best-recognised china brands – went into administration after it failed to sell a key factory in Stoke-on-Trent.
The company’s 388 staff, who worked at sites in Stoke, Worcester and Lymedale, were told there would be three redundancies at Lymedale; 15 at Stoke site and 22 at the Worcester site, following an urgent review of the requirements of the business.
Administrator Matthew Hammond, of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the redundancies were not voluntary, but had been made through a selection process, and all the people affected had been informed.
He said PwC did not anticipate any further job losses, and would be working with staff at the site to try to keep the business running smoothly while the administrators looked for a buyer.
There had already been a large amount of interest from potential buyers around the world, he added.
Mr Hammond said the failure to sell the Stoke plant had been the final straw for the firm, adding: “This was a property deal that was being negotiated to sale, a very important historic site in Stoke for redevelopment, which would have enabled the group to pay off a significant amount of debt.
“The property sale fell through and there were debts that needed to be paid. A lot of other businesses in consumer and retail have been hit because there’s been this fall off in sales. It was the two issues combined that left them with no alternative.”
PwC has been looking for a buyer for Royal Worcester since it collapsed last Thursday. Mr Hammond said despite the short time since PwC had taken over they had already received plenty of approaches, including some from abroad.
“We are welcoming offers from across the world. The brand has worldwide success but the major markets are the UK and America, where there are some very very popular ranges. We are looking for and receiving expressions of interest from the UK and abroad.
“If you look back at the history of the company it’s been through many different forms of both public and private ownership, and I would hope this part is a relatively short chapter before we find a new owner.
“I’m hopeful we will find one, particularly given the brand has a huge amount of heritage – it’s a brand that’s recognised worldwide, and we have got the benefit of a good number of celebrity endorsements.”
They are working with the company run by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has branded products made by Royal Worcester. All the production lines would be working as normal, PwC said.
Royal Worcester and Spode, which only last year secured a £16 million debt refinancing package to enable it to complete a company restructure, called in KPMG last week to assist in the sale of the company but no buyer could be found. It was then the decision to call in administrators was made.
Mr Hammond, Rob Hunt and Mike Jervis of PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed joint administrators to the company last Thursday.
Most of the firm’s suppliers are based abroad, with most of the work in the UK focused around fine hand painting and other skilled tasks.
Mr Hammond said: “The one thing to emphasise is the fact the shops and the retail network continue to operate as normal. We are really encouraged by the level of interest we have got.
He said while there could be no formal guarantees over jobs, PwC would “work as hard as we can, and the staff are cooperating fully in tough circumstances for them.”
“We have made 40 redundancies and we have immediately met with the rest of the staff to provide assurances,” he said.To all employees of the various sites, we said we would let them know immediately when we had reviewed their employment. We have held two further meetings on each of the main locations.”
Royal Worcester has a subsidiary in New Jersey, in the US, called Royal China and Porcelain. The branch has been left out of administration proceedings and was likely to be sold off separately, Mr Hammond said.