NovaScotian Crystal seeks protection as economy slides

Canada's only crystal maker is applying for protection from its creditors.

Waterfront company has stores in Halifax, Calgary

Canada's only crystal maker is applying for protection from its creditors.

NovaScotian Crystal Ltd. owes nearly $1.5 million to 100 creditors, including Scotiabank and Nova Scotia Business Inc., court documents show.

The company is blaming its financial problems on the international economic crisis.

CEO Rod McCulloch said 2008 seemed like a good year until November, when corporations abruptly stopped buying expensive crystal gifts.

The company has already laid off seven workers in Nova Scotia and five at its boutique in Calgary.

McCulloch said operating at about 75 per cent of previous production levels will help it survive this economic downturn.

"We've gone through all the structural changes to make it so that we can continue to make money at that lower level," he said.

Economic and Rural Development Minister Murray Scott said he has offered McCulloch his support.

"I reassured him that if there's anything I can do as minister of economic and rural development, I'd like to work with him to ensure the future of that business, if it's possible," said Scott.

"It's 30-plus jobs here in Nova Scotia. It means a lot to us. It's an icon on the waterfront. Nova Scotian Crystal is well known worldwide."

NSBI, the province's business development agency, has lent NovaScotian Crystal more than $220,000.

"Any time you make a loan, your capital is at risk," said Pat Ryan, NSBI's chief operating officer. "What we may be able to recoup and what we stand to lose remains to be seen as the bankruptcy unfolds."

NovaScotian Crystal was founded in 1996 and employs traditional glassworkers from Ireland, including some from the famed Waterford company.