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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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£30m boost for Ulverston Glaxo site

GLAXO bosses have revealed they are looking to invest a further £30m in Furness.

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GLOBE TROTTER: Greig Rooney, site director at GlaxoSmithKline

Ulverston site director Greig Rooney has revealed company bosses will visit tomorrow to talk about plans to increase manufacturing capacity of cephalosporin antibiotics.

The proposed investment is in addition to the £350m new biopharmaceutical facility planned for Ulverston, which was announced in March.

Although the biopharm plant is not expected to be operational until the beginning of the next decade, Mr Rooney revealed the site will change dramatically over the next eight years as the company invests in Ulverston’s core business.

He said: “We have a facilities masterplan to upgrade some of our existing facilities.

“We want to increase our capacity for intermediate manufacturing, which would cost around £12m and increase our sterile manufacturing, costing around £8m.

“We are looking at how we can increase capacity either with a new building or new machinery and we’re almost at the stage of making that decision.”

Glaxo’s Ulverston site could also soon be home to a new energy centre involving an investment of between £10m and £15m in a bid to reduce soaring utility bills.

Decisions on how to increase capacity at the site are expected to be made within two months while the energy centre could be given the green light by the end of the summer.

Mr Rooney, who took over at Ulverston last November, added: “Over the next eight years we will be making improvements to the existing site and core business.

“We support sales of £350m, supply to over 100 markets worldwide and treat more than 50 million patients a year and it’s important we don’t forget that we have a fantastic business here.

“The message for the existing facility, and staff, is that we want to continue to grow that business and reinvest.”

Bosses visiting Ulverston this week will include Dr David Tudor, the global drug giant’s head of primary pharmaceutical operations, Jean-Paul Reynaud, Glaxo’s senior vice president and David Lynch, head of engineering. Any additional investment at the site will further boost the existing workforce in Ulverston, which Mr Rooney said was “buzzing” after the biopharm announcement.

He said: “Over the next five or six years we will see a number of projects to modernise and make the site look different. With this, and the biopharm, we are securing the future for Ulverston and building on the legacy that’s been created here over the last 65 years.”

Mr Rooney also revealed why Ulverston had been picked as the location for the biopharm facility.

He said: “The key differentiator was whether the sites had primary, active pharmaceutical expertise and capabilities.

“Other factors were high-volume batching and sterile manufacturing capability.

“These requirements were all key strengths for us. We have high-volume batch manufacturing in a primary, active environment but also, we have developed those expertise over a number of years.”

While the new biopharm product is not expected to be unveiled for another 12 months, Mr Rooney said it was likely to be one of four drugs currently being developed by Glaxo.

He added: “The size and scale of the biopharm plant will depend very much on which product is chosen. That will be the first decision taken by the implementation team, who will also look at things like how we will find 350 skilled workers and if there are ways to bolster the existing workforce.”

After a 10-year period of downsizing and redundancies at Ulverston, Mr Rooney said the biopharm announcement had finally “put to bed” any rumours the site was closing.

He added: “When I first came to Ulverston there was an air of uncertainty around the site.

“This announcement has given everyone a real boost and has confirmed once and for all that Ulverston isn’t closing and will be here not only for this generation, but for three, four or maybe more generations to come.”

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