GSK dumps plans to build Cumbria factory and cuts 320 jobs

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Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is axing 320 jobs and has abandoned plans to build a £350m base at Ulverston in Cumbria.

The firm’s rationalisation plans include the closure of its plant in Slough, Berkshire, where the drink Horlicks is made and where the job losses will be incurred over the next four years.

But the planned biopharmaceutical facility in Ulverston – which would have created hundreds of jobs – will not procced because GSK says it no longer needs the additional capacity.

South Lakes and outgoing Lib Dem leader MP Tim Farron  said the announcement by the company showed the Government had ignored warnings signs for the Cumbrian economy.

He said: “This is a massive blow for the South Lakes, and shows just how much the Government has taken its eye off the ball over the last two years.

“Any Government worth its salt should have seen this coming – and for the Northern Powerhouse to mean anything they should be working with companies like GSK to secure investment here in Cumbria.”

GSK said its aim was to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of its manufacturing network.

These include both investments for respiratory and HIV medicines manufacturing in the UK and strategic reviews, including the sale of several products and a proposal to close the Slough manufacturing site.

It said that between now and 2020, the company would invest more than £140m at its Ware, Hertfordshire, Barnard Castle, Co Durham and Montrose, Scotland sites.

The investments will support expansion of manufacturing for respiratory and HIV medicines.

“This new investment is in addition to the £275m announced last year and investment of over £1.2billion in UK manufacturing since 2012,” a statement said.

Overall, GSK employs a total of around 17,000 people across the UK of which 5,000 are in UK manufacturing operations.

Roger Connor, president, GSK Global Manufacturing and Supply said: “We have a substantial manufacturing presence in the UK and continue to support the network with new investment of more than £140m in the next three years.

“At the same time, we have had to make some decisions which we know will cause uncertainty for some of our employees. We will do all we can to support them through this process.”

Philip Thomson, president, Global Affairs, GSK, said: “We are continuing to invest in science and our core businesses in the UK and we continue to see the UK as an attractive place for the life sciences industry. We are working constructively with the Government and others to develop an ambitious plan for the sector as part of the UK’s new industrial strategy.”

None of the announcements made by the company have resulted from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, GSK said.