Belfast Telegraph

One man's vision led to a global success

By Clare Weir

Almac's origins lie in Galen, the first company founded by Ulster multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist Sir Allen McClay.

Founded in 1968 by the former pharmacist, the company's name was inspired by the second century Greco-Roman doctor and father of modern medicine, Claudius Galenus and his philosophy of experience through zealous research.

In 1997, Galen Ltd floated on the London Stock Exchange to become Galen Holdings Plc, Northern Ireland's first billion pound company.

In 2000 the company announced the acquisition of US company Warner Chilcott and restructured into two separate units – Galen Pharma and Galen Services.

The then Dr McClay announced his retirement from Galen Holdings in late September 2001 but, fearing that some jobs could be moved from Craigavon to the US, he bought out five divisions of Galen Holdings and in 2002 the Almac Group was born.

On January 12, 2010 – just months before the company's new North American headquarters was completed – Sir Allen passed away at the age of 77.

Just over a year later the facility in Pennsylvania was opened by Senator George Mitchell. Now the Almac Group employs more than 2,100 staff at its headquarters in Craigavon, with an additional 1,380 staff in facilities throughout the rest of the UK, US and Asia.

Earlier this year Almac opened two new offices in Japan and Singapore in a bid to meet "increasing demand" for its services in Asia, where 15% of the world's clinical trials take place.

The firm has announced that it will open a new secondary packaging facility in Singapore by the end of this year. It also has US business premises in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California.

In June it emerged that an £8m research project from Almac has revealed information that will improve ovarian cancer treatment. The announcement was made at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

Almac also announced a 30% rise in pre-tax profits to £19.2m in 2013. Turnover also increased, up by 8% from £300m to £325m.

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