IRELAND – Waterford Wedgwood has paid off a quarter of its €130m pension deficit but admitted the higher than expected pension costs affected earnings.

The pension deficit is now €100m following increased contributions from both the employer and workers, under FRS17 accounting regulations, the company said.

The crystal and pottery manufacturer saw a group operating profit of €28.4m for the 12 months to 31 March, down from €64.2m in 2002. The company said margin erosion and pensions costs, along with exchange rate impacts, accounted for most of the decline.

Earnings before interest, tax and depreciation was €68.1m before large restructuring charges led to a pre-tax loss of €44.9m, compared to a profit of €7.2m the year before. Market expectations were for Ebitda of €80m, with “the shortfall due to tighter margins and higher than anticipated pension costs at Rosenthal its German_operation”.