£16m Almac expansion to include first English base and creation of 180 jobs
Craigavon-based drug development company Almac is set to open its first English site in 2017 in a £16m expansion.
The deal, in which the firm will take over most of Charnwood Campus in Loughborough, will allow the company expand its manufacturing and research services.
The expansion will create 180 jobs at a site formerly owned by multi-national pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
Almac Pharma Services managing director Graham McBurney said the site presented a great opportunity and vowed the expansion would not come at a cost to its Northern Ireland operations.
"There's buoyancy back in the market within the pharmaceutical and bio-tech industries and we needed to take the opportunity when it came up," he said.
The latest news follows last week's announcement that Almac had bought over Arran Chemicals in the Republic in a multi-million pound deal.
The 450,000 sq ft of vacant facilities at Loughborough include laboratories and equipment, offices, warehousing and car parking for up to 1,500 vehicles.
Almac will use the drug development and testing facilities at the site, carrying out similar work in drug research, development and manufacturing as its Craigavon headquarters.
It is expected that the move will create 180 new jobs over the next five years, adding to Almac's global workforce of over 4,000 people.
The company is spending £16m updating the Charnwood site's processing and analytical technology at the site, which will be ready in early 2017.
Mr McBurney said: "As we experience increased client demand for our pharmaceutical development and niche commercial manufacturing services, this latest expansion will significantly enhance Almac's offering, increasing capacity and capability and further demonstrating our continued commitment to support our global clients in the development and manufacturing of their drug products."
The managing director said Almac would continue to grow in Northern Ireland and that the expansion of its facilities would strengthen the company's operation in the province.
"There's been tremendous growth in this area. We have been out-stripping our scale and assets here," Mr McBurney added.
"By the time it would have taken to build a similar facility the market would have moved on. When you see the growth opportunity for your business you have to react to it."
The area had been left devastated when AstraZeneca pulled out of the site at the end of 2011, taking with it 1,200 jobs.
The firm had spent over £100m since 2000 developing the site before closing it as part of global restructuring. Recycling company Jayplas acquired the site in 2012 and aimed to redevelop the facility as one of the UK's leading science parks, renaming it Charnwood Biomedical Campus.
The Almac Group is a contract development and manufacturing organisation which works with over 600 pharma and bio-tech companies around the world.
The private company has its roots in Galen, which was set up 47 years ago in Craigavon by the late Sir Allen McClay. Today the company has sites in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California, Singapore and Tokyo.