Manufacturer moves emollient production to Yorkshire

Mark Kirkup

Thornton & Ross (T&R), part of the STADA group, has brought production of its emollient cream Oilatum from Ireland to Yorkshire, and has produced the first batch at its Huddersfield site.

The manufacturer acquired the Oilatum brand in June 2019 from GlaxoSmithSKline (GSK) and has invested about £2m in the project to transfer production from the GSK Sligo Plant in Ireland.

Its intensive 18-month project began in April 2019 and has been T&R’s largest coordinated transfer onto site, supported by the transfer team at parent company STADA in Bad Vilbel, Germany.

It has included ensuring the continued supply of 10 bulk products across 60 product stock-keeping units into 11 countries.

A total of 62 new raw materials and components were qualified on-site, and approximately 20 analytical methods transferred.

The project delivery was made all the more critical as the GSK Sligo manufacturing site, where Oilatum has been made until now, was planned to close by June 2020.

Annual global sales of Oilatum are expected to reach around £30m in 2020.

Mark Kirkup, vice-president of UK operations at Thornton & Ross, said: “When T&R acquired the Oilatum brand, it was our intention to move production to Yorkshire as quickly as possible and I am delighted that we have successfully completed the project on schedule.

“At a time when other companies may look to rein in expenditure, investment from our parent company, STADA, is allowing us to bring in high-speed, automated production lines so that, as our volumes grow, we can leverage our fixed costs and be ever more efficient.

“At the same time, we’re relentlessly focused on driving a continuous improvements culture, striving for operational excellence to make everything we do more efficient.”

T&R, founded in Huddersfield in 1922, develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of branded over-the-counter medicines, dermatological solutions and other healthcare and hygiene products including at its Linthwaite factory. In 2013 it became part of the German-based STADA group.

T&R has achieved recent success through household disinfectant Zoflora, which recorded significant growth in 2019, achieving 54% market share by value and 51% by volume, with growth continuing to soar in the first quarter of 2020.

As a result, the factory opened a second multi-million-pound, high-speed production line at the start of the year, which will allow increased output by 100% to Zoflora 18,000 bottles an hour.

Thornton & Ross currently exports to more than 80 countries around the world.