Waterford crystal maker prepares for sale -sources

NEW YORK Mon May 19, 2014 5:18pm EDT

NEW YORK May 19 (Reuters) - WWRD Holdings Ltd, owner of high-end crystal and china brands including Waterford, Wedgwood and Royal Doulton, is in the early stages of exploring a sale of the company, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

New York-based buyout firm KPS Capital Partners LP, which owns WWRD Holdings, is interviewing investment banks about a potential sale, expected early next year, the people said.

The people declined to be named because the matter is private. KPS Capital declined to comment, while Waterford Wedgwood, as WWRD is known, could not be immediately reached for comment.

WWRD's products, which include items like crystal vases, bowls and glasses, are sold at department stores including Macy's Inc and Bloomingdale's, as well as independent retailers and wholesalers in the United States, UK, Japan, Canada, Australia and Ireland.

New York-based WWRD employs more than 3,700 people around the world, according to its website.

KPS took over Waterford and other brands after their 250-year-old Irish parent filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 with debt of more than $1 billion. The company has since turned around under the ownership of KPS.

Recent deals in the luxury goods sector have included Versace's sale of a 20 percent stake to Blackstone Group LP and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA's $2.6 billion purchase of Italian cashmere company Loro Piana SpA. (Reporting by Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim in New York, additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)