A YEAR after its sudden collapse with crippling debts, the Poole Pottery factory will not return to the town, the new owners have confirmed.

This time last year, Poole was left reeling as the quayside shop and Sopers Lane factory closed without warning within a week of each other, leaving more than 100 people jobless just before Christmas.

Things looked dire as the pottery was forced into administration, owing more than £1million to some 300 creditors.

But, last February, new buyers Lifestyle group stepped in and breathed new life into the 134-year-old flagship brand.

A presence on Poole Quay was re-established with a shop and small studio of one potter, two paintresses and a sprayer, but the bulk of production moved to Stoke-on-Trent.

At the time there was a hope that a suitable factory site would be found in Poole, to offer redundant staff new work, and bring the pottery's presence back to the town.

But that is not on the cards, according to Lifestyle managing director Peter Bello.

He told the Daily Echo: "We will keep it at that level. At the moment there are no other plans. We absolutely stick to what we said to the public, that the bulk of production would move to Stoke-on-Trent, with the studio continuing with product development and design and production of limited editions."

He added: "That is an absolutely essential part of the mix. We are launching a new range in early 2008 which has been developed down there."

Mr Bello, who has always maintained a "no false promises" approach, said he was working hard to rebuild the pottery brand, but the business couldn't have continued as before.

"The Sopers Lane site wasn't working," he said. It was losing fortunes. When in the last five years it's had two changes of ownership and two bankruptcies, something tells you it's not quite right."

"We are now on the road, but it's not a minute job - it's a long term commitment and that's what we are making."

  • The headline for this story came from 2CR FM presenter Caroline Verdon, who pipped the Daily Echo's original one in the Headline Game on 2CR.