Staffordshire Tableware Ltd


Location and period of operation:

Staffordshire Tableware Ltd

(old Meir airport)



 (See sources)

Staffordshire Tableware operates from a 17 acre site at Meir Park, manufacturing and distributing mugs, chinaware and dinnerware to the UK and export retail markets.
Until 1990, the company formed the ceramics division of Coloroll Group and was the subject of a management buy-out when Coloroll went into receivership in the same year.

'A troubled history'

Aug 1990 Staffordshire Tableware formed by management buyout of Coloroll Ceramics

Sep 1994 Biltons Tableware put up for sale

1995 Management buyout of Biltons Tableware for £4M

Nov 1999 One third of Meir site sold to retailer

From Potteries Museum: "Staffordshire Tableware was created by a management buyout of Coloroll Ceramics Division in 1990. At this point in time they held 30% share of the UK dinnerware market. A range of china beakers was introduced in 1990.

Their main ranges continued as Biltons, Kilncraft and Medici, the first two co-ordinating with a range of household items such as aprons, storage jars, kitchen tools, ironing boards, cutlery etc. The company continued production of promotional mugs for events such as the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and for TV series such as Spitting Image.

A policy of outsourcing some production abroad was implemented around 1994. Christopher Wren giftware was designed in Stoke-on-Trent but manufactured by the Reliant Company of Taiwan in the Philippines, whilst wares made in India and Europe were being sold from the Meir site under the name Freestyle Trading Company. In 1997 the company decided to abandon this policy quoting poor quality and late delivery as their reasons.

The 1994 catalogue shows the range of tableware and oven-to-tableware as mainly bold floral patterns on a plain background, with a new fluted shape – Sandringham – in pastel colours for more formal dining. The emphasis, however, in both 1994 and 1998 was still on the production of mugs.

The company went into receivership in 2000 when the Bank of Scotland refused to extend its loan facility. The receivers blamed the collapse of the company on the worldwide economic environment and overseas competition".



Article from Sentinel Newspaper - 29th December 1999, 

More than 630 jobs at pottery giant Staffordshire Tableware Limited hang in the balance today after the company went into receivership.
Business advisor PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed today it had been appointed to deal with the affairs of the mugs-to-dinnerware giant based at Meir Park.
Joint administrator Alistair Grove claimed the company had suffered from a combination of the strong pound and problems with both its home and foreign markets.
Although he is hoping to sell the business as a "going concern", Mr Grove conceded redundancies were likely.
The receiver confirmed the company's 630-strong workforce were currently on their Christmas break and unaware of the crisis.
He said: "It is a sad day for the ceramics industry in Stoke-on-Trent when one of its larger employers is struggling to survive in what has become a highly competitive industry. 
"The situation has changed dramatically in the last couple of years - until 1997 Staffordshire Tableware was significantly profitable.
"We are working closely with management and our strategy is to continue to trade the business and, hopefully, sell it as a going concern.
"To this end we are in full consultation with the workforce and trade unions."

Mr Grove conceded any sale of Staffordshire Tableware could mirror that of the John Tams Group earlier this year, which was sold off in parts with the loss of an estimated 200 jobs out of 730.
Birmingham-based PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed it was meeting ceramics industry union CATU today to discuss the situation.
Mr Grove called on the company's employees to return to work as normal, across a total of eight shifts, following the Christmas break.
He said: "Unless contacted to the contrary, all staff should report for their usual shifts next week. It is not possible for us to contact some 700 people."

Staffordshire Tableware operates from a 17 acre site at Meir Park, manufacturing and distributing mugs, chinaware and dinnerware to the UK and export retail markets.
Until 1990, the company formed the ceramics division of Coloroll Group and was the subject of a management buy-out when Coloroll went into receivership in the same year.
However, PricewaterhouseCoopers said the UK ceramics market had faced "significant challenges" given the relative strength of sterling, making it hard to sell into their traditional export markets. 
It said other factors behind the firm's problems included over capacity in the domestic market, cheaper quality imports, the weakness of the Euro and the collapse of the Far East and East European markets.


Articles from Sentinel Newspaper - 30th December 1999, 



Director says company had no alternative

The boss of pottery giant Staffordshire Tableware has vowed to save as many jobs as possible after the company was forced into receivership.
Managing director Geoff WindasManaging director Geoff Windas revealed today the Meir Park firm was left with no alternative but to bring in the receivers when its bank pulled the plug after workers left for their Christmas break.
The firm, one of the most modern and efficient pottery manufacturers, has been hit by fundamental changes to its traditional markets and the strength of sterling.
Mr Windas is now working with administrative receivers who aim to sell the business, which employs 630, as a going concern.
He said: "There is never a right way or right time to announce something like this. It takes everyone by surprise.
"The workforce needs to be aware that everything that could have been done, has been done. 
"It is not their fault and we will continue to attempt to save as many jobs out of this as we can while going forward."
Mr Windas said although Staffordshire Tableware had turned to outsourcing in a bid to save the business, this had not worked.
The sale of more than a third of the 27-acre site for use as a DIY store had also failed to turn its fortunes around.
In addition, manufacturing improvements, which landed the firm a top award from the Department of Trade and Industry, were "insufficient" to offset deteriorating market conditions.
He said: "Since 1997, there has been the collapse of the Far East market in 1998, the Russian economic crisis in 1999, and the strength of the Euro against sterling since its launch in 1999.
"They have culminated to create a difficult marketplace for an industry which as a whole is an export industry.
"Another side is that the UK market has been inundated with cheap imports.
"It has also suffered from over-capacity. All the previous exporters have turned to the home market, with a quite dramatic fall in pricing and margins."
Mr Windas added the firm's problems were mirrored by other UK firms, referring to comments made this week by TUC head John Monks that thousands of manufacturing jobs were at risk next year.
Three administrative receivers from Birmingham-based business advisor PricewaterhouseCoopers are overseeing the disposal of the company.
One, Stuart Mackellar, confirmed Staffordshire Tableware's borrowings from the Bank of Scotland hit £6 million, at which point it withdrew the loan facility. 
A further loan of £800,000 was outstanding from venture capital firm Charterhouse Development Capital.
Mr Windas told The Sentinel the board had "no option" but to appoint receivers after the bank indicated it was not prepared to fund further borrowings
He said: "We were in discussion with the bank for two or three weeks prior to Christmas, but we didn't get a final answer until just before Christmas, when everyone had left the premises.
"I would have preferred the announcement to be prior to Christmas rather than during Christmas and the New Year.
"People have a right to know as soon as information is available - if we knew before it would have been there and then."
Bank of Scotland confirmed it was Staffordshire Tableware's bank but declined to comment on an individual customer. 


Workers stunned by firm’s decline 

Father-of-three Brian Challinor was in a state of "stunned disbelief" after discovering that his 17-year career with Staffordshire Tableware could be coming to an end.
The 52-year-old, of Dane Grove, Cheadle, had enjoyed Christmas with his family and was looking forward to New Year's Eve.
Then he heard Staffordshire Tableware had been placed into administrative receivership after difficulties caused by the strong pound compounded domestic and foreign trade. 
Mr Challinor said: "I knew there were continuing difficulties at the firm, but I don't think anyone appreciated it was as bad as this."
He joined the company in 1976 and, apart from a couple of years at Churchill China, has spent the majority of his career with the firm based at Meir Park.
The manager of the ‘slip house', which supplies raw materials to the production lines, continued: "We knew there were problems and that they sold part of the site to make extra cash but there was never nothing ever mentioned about receivership.
"We all left work on December 22 and I enjoyed Christmas with my family.
"I was looking forward to going back to work on Wednesday - now I'll be going back to find out whether I've still got a job.
"If the worst comes to the worst and I lose my job, I don't know what I will be doing."

 worker Ken Ginders fears for the future as the pottery giant goes into receivership Tension has been tangible on the shopfloor at Staffordshire Tableware for several months, according to 39-year-old Ken Ginders.
The Smallthorne man discovered the fate of his Meir Park-based employer after a telephone call from his mother after a Christmas Sales expedition.
But he told The Sentinel: "You could sense it coming although the timing is very cruel. For some people with children and families this could not come at a worse time."
Mr Ginders joined the company in September 1992 and currently makes screens for the dinnerware section.
Although he anticipated trouble on the horizon, the timescale has been much shorter than expected.
The divorcee said: "I am 40 next year and I was hoping to save up for a cruise in the Mediterranean. I suppose that's out of the window now.
"I will be on the lookout for a new job or training to make sure I can find a new job, to be honest. 
"I completed a writing and publishing course last year and I'll look for a computer course next - that's what you need to know nowadays."
He is confident of finding work but sympathised with fellow employees with families.
"I'm fortunate because I have no children to look after. This news would come as a much greater shock if that had happened. I just feel sorry for them."
Richard Talbot, who runs the nearest newsagent to the factory at Catchem's Corner, said: "This is an absolute bombshell for the area.
"If the worst comes to the worst and jobs do go, there is nothing about in Meir or Longton which can employ this number of people.
"Many workers from Staffs Tableware come in here to buy papers and though they tell stories of things going wrong at the company this will still come like a bolt from the blue.
"Coloroll who recently owned it, might have done a good job but they took over at the wrong time.
"The people over there say the problems started when people who know nothing about the pottery industry took over.
"The best hope would be if someone like the Ropers, who have been so successful with Churchill China come in with a bid for the company."

PICTURED: worker Ken Ginders fears for the future as the pottery giant goes into receivership 


Article from Sentinel Newspaper - 3rd January 2000, 


Staff arrive at debt-hit firm to find out their fate

A total of 350 workers at pottery giant Staffordshire Tableware were told today they had lost their jobs. The firm announced it had called in administrative receivers last week after debts reached £6.8 million.
Receivers acting for the company announced today that a restructuring of the company ahead of its possible sale would mean the loss of 350 of its 630 jobs, a cut of 60 per cent.
This includes the loss of 300 manufacturing jobs and approximately 50 other posts.
The moves will lead to a halting of dinnerware production and a 50 per cent cut in mug-making at the Meir Park plant. 
Stoke-on-Trent South MP George Stevenson, who was at the site today, said he was "appalled" at the timing of the job losses and the way workers have been treated.
He said: "To go on your Christmas holiday thinking your job was reasonably safe and secure and during that time to hear through the media that hundreds of jobs could be lost and then to turn up for work this morning and be told to go away again is appalling. What we need to do now is make sure as much manufacturing is retained on this site as possible. I am shocked at the numbers
"I am hearing and shall be speaking to the administrators today as I have been doing constantly for the last few days."
One worker leaving the factory said: "We knew something was going on but we didn't expect it to be as bad as this. The announcement was bad timing.
"The pottery industry is like the pits – who is going to invest in it now?"
Linda Cosby, aged 51, of Meir, said: "I have worked there for 24 years and I doubt I will be able to find a new job.
"People are just waiting at the moment to find out whether they are the ones who have lost their jobs. Everyone was asked to go to their workplace and those being made redundant then had to go to the canteen to pick up their papers."
Martin Lynch, 44, of Normacot has worked at the firm for five years.
He said: "I think it is disgusting the way they have gone about this. People have had a good Christmas spent all their money and come back to find they don't have a job.
"If we had known before Christmas we wouldn't have spent so much. I have got an eight-month-old baby to look after.
"We knew there was something in the pipeline but we had no idea what."
Receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed it had "taken steps to restructure the business".
Joint receiver Stuart Mackeller said: "Our strategy is to allow the business to continue to trade with a view to selling it as a going concern. Interested parties should contact us without delay.
"We are very sad to have to announce job losses today. The workforce have worked very hard to gain efficiencies by changing working processes and practices. Unfortunately however, the external factors affecting the whole industry have more than offset the good results achieved by Staffordshire Tableware." 


( )  



Initials used on ware for identification:



The above information may not be available
for all potters - if you have information to
help complete the records then I would be
happy to include it.

email: Steve Birks