Steuben, Century-Old Crystal Manufacturer, to Stop Production



CORNING, N.Y.—Effective Nov. 29, Steuben, LLC, will close its plant here and its store at the Corning Museum of Glass.

An affiliate of Schottenstein Stores Corp., Steuben was founded in 1903.

“The difficult economy, declining sales and high expenses continue to have negative impact on the company’s profitability,” said Mark Samitt, president of Steuben, LLC, in a statement. “Our employees and Local 1000 worked in cooperation with the company to change the trend but the efforts at restructuring and repositioning the brand were unsuccessful. We would like to thank our employees and Local 1000 for their efforts.”

Corning, Inc., a minority partner in Steuben, LLC, has agreed to purchase the Steuben brand name, though it has no immediate plans to re-enter the luxury glass business, a statement from Corning said. Schottenstein will retain the Steuben name until 2012, so it can get rid of inventory, and then it will be passed back to Corning, Inc., Joe Dunning, spokesperson, Corning, told HFN.

Corning originally bought the Steuben brand in 1918, and then sold it in 2008 to Schottenstein Stores Corp., as it didn’t fit into Corning’s core business strategy, the company said. But Corning will buy back the Steuben name now to preserve it, so no other companies could start producing Steuben products. Corning leased Steuben’s Corning factory to Schottenstein.

“Steuben Glass has established a century-long reputation as the world’s purest crystal and has been highly praised and coveted the world over,” Corning said in a statement. “We understand that a depressed global economy and significantly changing consumer buying habits when it comes to luxury goods items made it a challenging undertaking … It is the end of an era.”

Corning’s statement also mentioned that when it sold the business three years ago, the Steuben division had lost money 17 of the 20 previous years.

Steuben LLC still has a substantial amount of outstanding orders, so it will continue to run the business until orders are fulfilled and the finished goods inventory is sold, said Ron Sykes, spokesperson, Steuben, LLC. He said that could take up to a year.

Steuben has a long history of working with esteemed artists and designers. Last year it unveiled a new branding initiative to attract new customers, which included offering lower price points in several classifications, signed licensing agreements with Jonathan Adler and Waterworks, and placed more emphasis on stemware, barware and other core tabletop categories.

This past June, HFN awarded Steuben with a Tabletop Award of Excellence for its Crosshatch collection, a sophisticated line of stemware, barware and giftware.