The chief executive of Waterford Wedgwood has refused to rule out short-time working at the group's crystal manufacturing plants in Waterford if the economic situation across the world gets worse.

The company employs over 1,600 people at factories in Waterford city and Dungarvan and yesterday reported lower than expected sales for the first two months of the year.

Company CEO Redmond O'Donoghue stressed that the introduction of short-time working at the plants would be contemplated only as part of a series of measures to ensure the long term viability of the company.

Short-term working was introduced for a time at the factories last summer and Mr O'Donoghue said that uncertainty caused by concerns about war and terrorism was continuing to have an impact on the Waterford factories.

But he emphasised that in the long term the company was in a strong position and would make more money than last year.