Royal Crown Derby sold to ceramics firm Steelite International
ROYAL Crown Derby has been bought out by Stoke-on-Trent ceramics manufacturer Steelite International for an undisclosed sum.
There are no plans tor any job losses at the Osmaston Road china factory following the deal.
The new owner pledged to retain the 200-strong workforce and production will remain in the city , continuing a tradition that dates back to 1750.
It is the impending retirement of chief executive Hugh Gibson that prompted the sale of the business to Steelite International.
The Stoke-on-Trent firm manufactures and sells tableware to hotels and restaurants and has a turnover of £66m, around nine times that of Royal Crown Derby.
There are historic links between the two businesses, both having formerly been part of the Royal Doulton Group.
Royal Crown Derby left the group in 2000, having been subject to a buyout led by Mr Gibson.
Mr Gibson said: "After careful consideration I have decided it is time for me to retire, and know I am leaving Royal Crown Derby in the very safest hands.
"It has been a privilege to be the custodian of Royal Crown Derby for so many years and I am certain it will thrive and maintain its special place in the heart of the nation under Steelite International's stewardship."
It is hoped that becoming part of the larger firm will give Royal Crown Derby access to the hospitality market and grow sales.
A new brand, Royal Crown Derby Entertains, is being launched to provide fine bone China to hotels, restaurants and hospitality venues across the world.
Kevin Oakes, chief executive of Steelite International, said: "This is excellent news for both companies.
"Like us, Royal Crown Derby has a first-class reputation across the globe and we know that our expertise as a major ceramics industry player can only strengthen the business offering from Royal Crown Derby and ensure they reach new heights of success.
"We have researched the international hospitality market very carefully over the past year and know that there is a market for fine bone china which boasts that genuine 'Made in England' pedigree.
"Royal Crown Derby Entertains will most definitely fulfil that niche."
Although the china industry has been through lean times in recent years, Steelite International enjoyed record turnover of £66.3m and is investing £12m to expand its plant in Stoke-on-Trent and creating 230 new jobs.
Acting on behalf of Royal Crown Derby on the deal were Ran Oren, of Derby law firm Flint Bishop, and John Bryant of Pride Park business advisory firm Cooper Parry.