GSK to cut 320 jobs and sell Horlicks brand as part of major overhaul in UK
Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will slash 320 jobs and shutter its Slough plant as part of a major overhaul of its UK business.
The company confirmed on Wednesday that it planned to sell off its malt drink Horlicks brand in the UK and close the associated manufacturing site in Slough, while outsourcing some of the antibiotics manufacturing activity at its plant in Worthing.
It has also backtracked on plans to invest in a biopharma facility in Ulverston, Cumbria, saying it "no longer needs the additional capacity", adding that a strategic review of its cephalosporin antibiotics division could result in a sale of the business and its related manufacturing plants.
The proposals will see 320 permanent GSK staff lose their jobs over the next four years.
GSK currently employs around 17,000 people in the UK, 5,000 of which are involved in its manufacturing operations.
Roger Connor, president of GSK's global manufacturing and supply division, said he understood that the decision would create uncertainty for staff, but highlighted additional plans to expand the manufacturing of its respiratory and HIV medicines.
"We have a substantial manufacturing presence in the UK and continue to support the network with new investment of more than £140 million 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."
The company stressed that none of the announcements were the result of the UK's decision to leave the EU.
GSK is also looking to sell the MaxiNutrition brand in the UK and divest in "some other smaller non-core nutrition brands".
However, the company explained that the sale of its Horlicks operations in Britain would not affect the brand in India or South East Asia, which currently account for the "vast majority" of the brand's global revenue.
The pharma giant now intends to invest more than £140 million in manufacturing sites based in Ware, Hertfordshire, Barnard Castle, County Durham, and Montrose, Scotland.
That is in addition to £275 million worth of investments announced last year, and the more than £1.2 billion that has been earmarked for UK manufacturing since 2012, GSK said.
GSK's president of global affairs Philip Thomson 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."