Pottery brands Royal Worcester and Spode have been bought by ceramic firm Portmeirion, but manufacturing has ended at their two historic factories.
Stoke-based Portmeirion will take over the rights to produce goods under the world-famous brands after a £3.2million deal was struck.
However, no workers are involved in the deal, which means all manufacturing staff have been made redundant since debt-ridden Spode and Royal Worcester called in administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in November. Dozens of retail staff are also expected to be axed by PWC.
Dick Steele, chairman of Portmeirion, said the deal could see some production transferred back to the United Kingdom, as much is currently outsourced, although details are still being worked out. He said: “Most of this is being produced abroad at the moment, largely in the Far East and now we will be considering where to manufacture it.
“We manufacture two-thirds of our products in the UK at the moment and outsource a third.
“We have an excellent factory with capacity in Stoke-on-Trent, so that will be very much on the starting line when we think about manufacturing but the important thing at the moment is to get sales.”
Portmeirion, which employs more than 400 people in Stoke, said the acquisition would generate at least £7m of additional sales for the remaining eight months of the year.
The firm, which turned over £31.8m, expects to boost revenues by at least £12m a year. The sale also includes the remaining stock held by the United States subsidiary of the company but excludes any rights relating to Jamie Oliver’s products or licences.
Royal Worcester had previously produced a range of ceramics featuring the television chef’s name, but Stoke-on-Trent-based rival Churchill China has since struck a deal with his management team.
Mr Steele said the new brands fit in well with Portmeirion’s business model, under which it exports more than half of production with the US, Korea and Italy among its biggest markets.
He said plans were still being finalised but the company is expected to continue using the backstamps of both brands.
Royal Worcester has been manufacturing since 1751, while pottery legend Josiah Spode Jr set up his ceramic firm in about 1770 and Mr Steele said that heritage would be a big asset for the future. He said the renowned Blue Italian, Christmas Tree and Evesham patterns would now be brought back.
He said: “Spode Jr was like a giant in the pottery industry. It was him that really pushed through bone china.
“Both Royal Worcester and Spode are very big names but Spode the man was an absolute giant.”
A PWC spokesman said Royal Worcester and Spode currently employs about 80 people in the UK – none of whom have been taken on by Portmeirion.
A total of 45 work in four retail outlets across the country, which are continuing to trade “for the time being” while five will lose their jobs when a shop in Trentham, Staffordshire, closes at the end of the month.
Factory shops at the Stoke and Worcester factories will close when the remainder of the wares have sold, with the loss up to 38 more jobs, while manufacturing staff have already been made redundant in the administration process.
The spokesman said PWC is “considering its options” for the future of the two factories.
Joint administrator Matthew Hammond, a partner at PWC, said: “We are pleased to have been able to preserve the Royal Worcester and Spode brands and of their ongoing presence in Stoke-on-Trent, which is of vital importance to the region.
“We are continuing to trade the remaining four Royal Worcester and Spode retail outlets in the UK whilst we continue to retail our extensive remaining range of products.”